As the Nigerian contingent to the London 2012 looks to be running out of chances for medals at the Olympics Game, the usual refrain of going back to the drawing board may be in the offing.
The Olympics Game is a major and very popular international world event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympics Games are considered to be the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate. The Games are currently held biennially, with Summer and Winter Olympics Games alternating, meaning they occur every four years within their respective seasonal games. The Olympics games originated from ancient Greece. Some aims of the Olympics Games are to bring about peace, unity, and also gender equality in sports. The Olympics games has served as a major boost for countries hosting it.
Countries are expected to partake in qualification rounds in order to qualify for various events at the games. Qualification is not automatic. Nigeria, a country with over 150 million citizens has been participating in the Olympics games since 1952 when it made its maiden appearance. And since then Nigeria has been participating at all Olympic events except for the 1976 edition of the Olympics held at Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Nigeria boycotted the games and refused to send a team to the games. The 1996 Atlanta Olympics was the best team Nigeria had ever gotten, winning two gold medals at the event. Nigeria became the first African nation to win an Olympic gold medal in football. Since then the performance of team Nigeria has fallen. It is shameful to sy that Nigeria has won a total of two gold medals only, since it started featuring at the Olympic games in 1952.
The 30th Olympic games tagged London 2012 kicked off on the 28th of July 2012. The games have over 29 sport events to be played. Some of the sports event at the ongoing Olympic are: archery, athletics, basketball, beach volleyball, canoeing, diving, equestrian, fencing, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting.
Team Nigeria is participating at the ongoing Olympic event and much is expected from them, but from the look of things Nigeria may not make impact at the Games. Nigeria has selected 62 participants who will compete in 9 sports including judo, athletics, basketball, and table tennis at the event. So far, Team Nigeria is yet to win any medal. Before team Nigeria left the shores of the country for preparation for the event, the president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Engineer Sani Ndanusa had said that the target of Nigeria was to get at least two gold medals at the event. He went further to say that “in the past Olympics, we had been participating but come 2012, we’ll compete with other Nations.”
If what the NOC chairman said and the reality facing us at the Games are anything to go by, I think Nigeria still had a long way to making a name at the Olympics. What will the NOC president call the team Nigeria’s performance at the Atlanta ’96 olympics? Did the athletes go to participate or they went to compete? If the NOC president’s target for Nigeria is two gold medals why would he say that team Nigeria was going to compete? By now Nigeria is supposed to be a force to reckon with at the Olympic games, if not in all games, at least some games like football, judo, boxing, wrestling and athletics where Nigeria has some good talents. We have very talented individuals in Nigeria, but the problem is that there are no right measures in place to find and maintain these talents. It has been over the years that Nigeria has lost wonderful talents to other countries due to some reasons that can be taken care of by the Nigerian government. They were not taken good care of, so countries that saw the talent in them took them away and they are now doing well in their adopted countries. The list of Nigerians or sportsmen bearing Nigerian names competing for other countries has continued to swell in the last few years. At the moment, more than 100 Nigerian-born athletes are reportedly competing for their adopted countries in Europe, the Americas and across Africa. The reasons they opted for greener pastures elsewhere range from insensitivity of the Nigerian national federations, poor incentives to athletes, lack of developmental programmes at home to lack of support from the government and non-release of training grants before major championships.
A perfect case is that of Francis Obiorah Obikwelu, unarguably one of Nigeria and Portugal’s most successful athletes, was Africa’s sprint king in the 100 metres and 200 metres while competing for his native country. He assumed Portuguese citizenship in 2001. Obikwelu brought glory to his adopted country at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, where he finished second in the 100 metres and won the first silver medal ever in a sprint event for Portugal at the global games.
In 2006 at the European Championships, he got the gold in the 100 metres and 200 metres and became the first athlete to win both events in the same Euro championships since 1978. Though now retired, Obikwelu was a talent that Nigeria would have tried its best to retain and make the nation proud, but he was neglected.
Another example is Daniel Baraladei Igali, a Canadian freestyle wrestler. Igali was born in Eniwari village, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. He was captain of the Nigerian wrestling team to the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada. After the games, he refused to return with the contingent and remained in the country while seeking refugee status due to political unrest at the time in Nigeria. He acquired Canadian citizenship in 1998. In Canada, Igali won 116 consecutive matches, wrestling at Simon Fraser University from 1997 to 1999.
He was placed fourth at the 1998 world championships. He finished second at the 1998 World Cup and won a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan-American Games. If Nigeria was interested in this young man the government would have made a move to make sure he stays back in Nigeria and make the country proud, but such was not done. The list goes on.
Even at the present Olympic games in London, names like Margaret Adeoye, Abdul Buhari, James Dasaolu, Ifeoma Dieke, Philips Idowu Christian Ohuruogu (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) Athletics, Eniola Aluko (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) Football, Oluwadamilola Bakare, Eniola Bakare (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) Volley Ball, Temi Fagbenle (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) Basketball, are all participants at the ongoing Olympic games with Nigerian names competing for other countries.
The Federal Government of Nigeria in conjunction with the Nigeria Olympic Committee have to rise to the challenge and take the bull by the horn to make sure talents are sourced for from schools around the country. We have a lot of Obikwelu’s, Finidi’s, Igali’s out there that can be gotten and groomed for national duty tomorrow. After all countries that are making names at the Olympic games today like the United States of America, China, England, Jamaica etc, all started from somewhere, and they are tops today, so why will Nigeria refuse to do the right thing and search amongst the millions of citizens in this country? The Federal government of Nigeria and the Nigerian Olympic Committee must see the Olympic games as a challenge and a wake-up call to work hard and invest for a better Nigeria, especially, in the world of sports.
Echem David Prince is a student of RSUST, Port Harcourt.
Echem David Prince
Adesanya Beats Vettori To Retain UFC Middleweight Title
UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya cruised to victory over Marvin Vettori as he retained his undisputed 185-pound title in the main event of UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona.
The pair had previously met, when Adesanya claimed a split-decision victory over Vettori in April 2018 in the Nigerian-born Kiwi’s second UFC bout.
But in Saturday night’s rematch Adesanya, 31, showed his class with a virtuoso performance as he picked apart the Italian over the full five-round championship duration at the Gila River Arena.
Vettori started the bout in aggressive fashion and landed an early takedown, but Adesanya soon settled into his work and dominated the striking exchanges, using repeated kicks to Vettori’s lead leg to punish the challenger from range.
Adesanya’s control of the bout caused plenty of consternation in Vettori’s corner between rounds, as coach Rafael Cordeiro implored his man to be more aggressive in his pursuit of the takedown.
But Vettori simply had no answer for the champion, who looked in complete control as he cruised to a shutout decision victory with all three judges scoring the bout 50-45 in Adesanya’s favour.
After the result was officially announced, Adesanya dedicated his victory to his teammate Fau Vake, a promising up-and-coming fighter who died in May from injuries sustained in an alleged attack in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I just want to say Fau Vake, Fau Vake, Fau Vake, I love you, man… This fight I dedicate to you, Fau,” he said.
Adesanya then said he wanted his next title defence to come against Australia’s former champion Robert Whittaker, but on the condition that the fight takes place in Adesanya’s hometown of Auckland after Adesanya dethroned Whit-taker in Melbourne in their first meeting at UFC 243.
“We need to run that back in my territory this time,” he said.
In the night’s co-main event, Brandon Moreno completed a remarkable career turnaround as he captured the undisputed UFC flyweight title.
Moreno, 27, submitted reigning champion Deiveson Figueiredo via third-round rear-naked choke to capture the title.
But ‘The Assassin Baby’ battled his way back to the UFC in mid-2019 and climbed to the top of the flyweight division. His first shot at the gold came last December when he and Figueiredo, 33, produced one of the fights of the year in a bout that ended in a majority draw.
It demanded an immediate rematch, and Moreno produced the best performance of his UFC career to defeat Figueiredo and claim the undisputed 125-pound title.
Sports Minister Charges Usman To Develop Martial Art
Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has charged Kamar Usman to use his clout to develop Martial Arts in Nigeria.
Kamarudeen “Kamaru” Usman (born May 11, 1987) is a Nigerian-American professional mixed martial artist, former freestyle wrestler, and graduated folkstyle wrestler. He currently competes in the welterweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where he is the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion. Usman was also The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament winner. As of March 23, 2021, he is #2 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
As a wrestler, Usman primarily competed at 84 kilograms and was the 2010 US University World Team Member. Collegiately, he competed at 174 pounds and was the 2010 NCAA Division II National Champion, a three-time NCAA DII All-American, and a NAIA National qualifier
The Minister made this appeal on Friday when he hosted the champion in his office in Abuja.
“Today we just hit another notch of excitement as a ministry and as a country having Usman Kamaru, who is nicknamed “Nightmare” for his opponents in the octagon in the country.
Kamar, who has a staggering 19 wins out of 20 fights has established himself as a legend in the Welterweight category. Kamaru embodies two cultures; a Nigerian by birth and an American by immigration, moved to the USA at the age of 8 and is returning to the country for the first time as an adult.
The Minister said “it is commendable for you to have identified fully with your country and also the Ministry that has the mandate for Sports Development. The Ministry is concerned with a large number of Youth who are engaged in sports and are interested in your kind of sports because it has become a rave because it falls under the radar of the Mixed Martial Art and we are concerned about growing it. Having you here, as the champion, it will be great to have you headline that and start to see how at a national level and as a country we can work together to see your success remain and to see you get other youths interested in this sport.”
“Your story is well told, you signify the Nigerian Spirit; that of being dogged and rising to the top the feats you have achieved is no mean feat. For me I can’t say it enough; countries must leverage on their strength, not dwell and emphasise their weaknesses and you have signpost the good from Nigeria. As the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, we celebrate you and thank you for being a true Nigerian and remaining patriotic not just to share your success but to identify with the country. The greatest beneficiaries of this visit will be the youth of the country, who are interested in the Mixed Martial Art.”
Kamaru expressed excitement to be in the country. “I’m delighted to be here and above all during my visit to the country I aim at creating a long-lasting relationship. I represent martial art now and I want to work on making it easily accessible to everyone interested. I understand the responsibilities that I have with my platform and I want to put that to good use I want to be able to effect changes and part of being able to effect change is creating that foundation so people can actually see a future, different from what they are now, because I understand the restrictions. With my space, I want to be able to create something that will pull interested people out.”
AFN Election: Committee To Hold Election, Today
All is set for the 2021 Elective Congress of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in Kebbi State.
The Electoral Committee Chairman, Prince Jambright Sumanu told Tidesports source in Kebbi on Saturday that last minute preparations were in top gear.
Sumanu said that the election is significant in so many ways, hence the committee cannot afford to let millions of Nigerians home and abroad down.
The Elective Congress is set to hold today, for many, will not just unite the athletics family once again but will herald the dawn of a new era in the internal workings of the federation where the constitution trumps individuals or sentiments.
“All eyes are now on the AFN elections. Everybody is looking up to us for justice. With these reputable members of this committee, we are ready to do our best.”
Speaking on the guidelines expected to be met by intending contestants, Sumanu said that the committee expects a full compliance in line with international standards.
“We expect that interested candidates must come with nomination forms from their zones while also meeting up with World Athletics guidelines, as well spelt out in the constitution of the AFN.”
The Chairman affirmed that interested candidates with documented history of drug abuse, doping or convictions should do themselves the honour of staying off their radar.
Sumanu assured that a level-playing ground will be provided for all candidates with an option of an appeal for any contestant who is aggrieved or not satisfied with the outcome of the screening, election conduct or result.
“There is an electoral body in charge of appeal cases and we have Legal Officers who are on ground to handle their grievances.
“Due to the peculiarity of this electoral congress, the election will be safer and authentic than what we have had in the past because we are expecting people to submit their forms of intent to contest till midnight (Saturday, 12th, June)”, the committee chairman stated.
“After that, we will download forms that were submitted online and collate with those who have submitted hard copies.
“We will not likely go to sleep from that 12th. We will go into the production of the ballot papers. That, is even a secret document. I need to say that we will not print the ballot papers until about 2 hours to the elections. This is to ensure that the ballot papers are not exposed until voting time” he said.
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