Olympics: Reinventing Congo feat in Brazil

By Ikenna Okonkwo on 30/09/2015

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Yakmut

With less than one year to kick off of another Olympic summer games scheduled to take place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, a fresh crunch moment is already starring Team Nigeria on the face, three years after the most populous African Nation returned home without a single medal at the 2012 games in London.

To many, it was an experience to forget but the memories still hurts especially those who have remained inquisitive concerning the flight of Nigeria’s poor show in several international competitions.

Though Nigeria’s representatives at the just concluded African Games smiled home with 144 medals comprising of 47 gold, 55 silver and 42 bronze and were placed second out of about 50 countries that participated, many are of the view that for this feat to be repeated in subsequent sporting event especially at the global scene, effort must be redoubled in giving athletes the level of required preparation backed with state of the art training equipment even as they are given adequate exposure as the day draw closer.

Image result for team nigeria at 2015 african games

Giving a blow by blow account of how Nigeria really fared in Congo, venue of 2015 African Games, it’s obvious that a number of sports came to rescue when the medals seem to be far away.

Those who were informed of how the country suddenly regained its pride of place in the continent’s most prestigious sporting event witnessed not too impressive display by Nigerian athletes in Swimming, Badminton, Gymnastics and perhaps fencing –that were the very first events that where countries like Egypt, South Africa and Algeria stole the show early enough.

Image result for team nigeria at 2015 african games

At a time, Nigerian athletes struggled to make name for their country in Taekwondo and some short and long distance track and field events.

Lessons for the future

One paramount lesson which many believed must not be jettisoned was the urgent need to explore the country’s areas of weakness as well as strengthen the aspect where a lot is expected.  

Swimming, Gymnastics and Fencing with many medals sporting events failed to maximize begging opportunities in Congo Brazzaville to gift Nigeria the very first position which Egypt eventually got.

Image result for team nigeria at 2015 african games

Immediate past Chairman House of Representatives Committee on sports Hon Godferey Gaiya was vocal to admit that though Nigeria finished in second position which became the best-ever personance in recent times, no other African nation deserved a top finish than the continent’s most sporting potentials.

“Yes our athletes did well and made us proud but this is not where we are supposed to be. It’s not what could be seen as an issue of the present time. Rather, our inability to have a blueprint as a country towards achieving a lot in the sports industry has been the problem,” He stated.

Swimming

Obviously, Swimming remains one sport with over 50 medals prospects. And until the last outing in Brazzaville, the National Sports Commission, NSC was yet to explore it, a situation where only five weeks were approved for preparation before athletes jetted out for the games, many said was not realistic.

Former Director General, NSC, Dr. Patrick Ekeji is of the view that for continuous medal haul to be possible for any country desirous of making meaningful impact at Olympic Games, no fewer than 12 year plan was required. 

“So far, Nigeria is still struggling to win which is not supposed to be. Winning medals continuously in a an international competition such as Olympic requires a lot of work.

“There should be at least a 12-year long term plan. Countries like Kenya and South Africa are all African countries. And they have made name for themselves at international stage. Such can’t be said of us,” Ekeji who was once an athlete submitted.

In Congo, Nigerian Swimmers could not go pass heat three in all swimming events. And so many believe it’s should not be heard of a country surrounded by water.

Two weeks before heading to Congo, few other Swimmers were at the World Swimming championship in Russia, and as usual they couldn’t make any impact at the global platform.

National Coach of Nigeria Aquatic Federation, NAF Saheed Obadina posited that acquiring swimming skills is beyond just knowing how to swim in your locality.

Image result for team nigeria at 2015 african games

According to Obadina who led about eight Swimmers to this year’s African Games, “At the national level, we have athletes in parts of the country who train with their coaches at the state level. We only select some of them when there is any international competition to train together for a while.

“But you know, to be realistic, few days or weeks training before any tournament is not just enough to get the best out from them. There is need for intensive training session which should take a longer time. At the level of the few Swimmers we went with to Congo, they did their best considering the circumstance they found themselves.”

Gymnastics

Another sport which NSC should pay attention to is Gymnastic. It is one of the sporting activities that equally has medals prospect at Olympic Games.  The inability of Nigerian Gymnasts not to have fared well in Congo could be attributed to a number of factors, Whirlwindnews.com learnt.

Image result for team nigeria at 2015 african games

Top on the challenges facing Nigerian Gymnastics have been the leadership inefficiency within Nigerian Gymnastic Federation. From the President of the federation to most Board members, no clear cut vision has been mapped out for their athletes.

Whirlwindnews.com reliably gathered that few local competitions which have been organized in the past sailed through due to the effort and spirited contribution of ‘passionate’ technical officials who practically go cap in hand begging for funds from well-to-do individuals. Ordinarily, federation board members are meant to be saddled with such responsibility while Coaches concentrate fully on getting athletes prepared technically.

Fencing

As a sport that is less popular in the country, many are of the view that attention should be focused on creating much needed awareness concerning fencing just as preparation should remain the key in getting athletes perform a lot better in subsequent times.

Sustaining the gains of AAG through sound administrative policies, strategic steps

One very important step tailored towards sustaining the gains of 2015 African Games many have echoed is the need for the federal government to fix round peg in a round hole with the appointment of proven professional as Sports Minister.

Leadership issues have over time limited Nigerian athletes and indeed slowed down how the country with many talents has become a laughing stock in most international events.

Presently, most sports enthusiasts posited that the appointment of Mallam Al Hassan Yakmut, a former athlete and technocrat as the NSC Director General has registered immediate impact on the way sporting affairs are addressed.

A Judo coach with one of the states, Suleiman Musa who could not hide his feelings declared that with continuous leadership of Yakmut-led Sports commission, better times are still ahead.

He added “For me, I don’t think there is much need for another person to come and head the commission at least for now. Our current DG is not just a politician; he understands and feels the pulse of athletes and coaches.

“He personally supervised everything sports by not just delegating duties before, during and after the African Games.”

Also, A former athletics coach and the interpreter for Team Nigeria at the just concluded   Games Timothy Akinrodoye enjoined the President Mohammadu Buhari to appoint a professional as Sports Minister in a bid to sustain the gains of Nigeria’s exploits in Congo.

“Anyone that will be appointed as the Minister of Sports should be someone who would key into the good foundation that has been laid at the Commission to ensure that Nigerian athletes perform excellently well at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” He added.

On effort being taken to sustain what has already been kick-started, Director Grassroots in NSC Dr Ademola Areh quipped, “It take continuous training and exposure because in sports you can only give out what you have put in. Long term plan and lot of commitment, a lot of funding, and a lot of planning are needed.

“And we can do it. We have been doing it before; I believe we can still do it. It doesn’t take much, it’s just that commitment on the part of every body and I am sure we can definitely get there.”

 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on September, 30 2015

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