By Obi Martins Okafor
One of Nigeria’s sport directors was asked on one occasion: “Sir, how many gold medals are we expecting from our contingents at the London Olympics?” And he answered ‘As much as five’ with a comical gesture.
As preposterous as his words sound, it is alarming that the preparations of our athletes are below encouraging.
Nigerian sportsmen and women have qualified to participate in swimming, athletics, boxing, canoeing, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. The last time Nigeria scooped a gold medal was sixteen years ago at the Atlanta Olympics held in the USA, where fortune smiled at us in the female Long Jump and Soccer category, with the likes of Chioma Ajunwa and Nwankwo Kanu, fondly called ‘Papilo’, emerging as heroes from the tournament.
Ever since, the closest we have come was a silver medal which was lifted by the Samson Siasia led soccer team.
The London games will see Nigeria parade renowned and medal hopefuls like Chika Chukwumerije in taekwondo, Mariam Usman in weightlifting, and Jonathan Akinyemi in canoeing, among other track and field atheletes. But with our organizational incompetence and the failure of our sporting body to secure adequate funds for our preparation we can only hope on mother luck in order to come back with one of those ‘precious items’.