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Inside Nigeria’s Olympics Preparations : Chances of medals low

Barely one month before the start of the game, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, July 19, 2016, at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja, ordered the release of funds budgeted for Nigeria’s successful participation in the Rio Olympics in Brazil, scheduled to hold fromAugust 5- 21, with Nigeria billed to participate in nine games with 86 athletes.

Nigeria’s preparation has been described as poor. Despite the 10 medal targets, many analysts believe Nigerians should expect no medal at the games. Veteran Sports  analyst Godwin Enakhena said, “Nigeria has no business at the Olympics based on our preparations for the Games.”

We examine some games and the chances of Nigeria in each of these games:

Track and field events

Track and field events have won us medals in the past, but this year’s  Olympics might be different as our athletes’ poor preparation and low performance jeopardize medal prospects.

Blessing Okgbare is to represent Nigeria in the female category of the 100 meter sprint event, while Seye Ogunlewe will represent Nigeria in the male category. Both were selected after finishing top at the Olympic trials held in Sapele, Delta State between July 6-9.

Okagbare and Ogunlewe ran their season’s best at the trials, finishing 11.02 seconds and 10.152 seconds respectively.

Ogunlewe’s 10.12 is nowhere close to Tyson Gays’s 9.97 seconds, Trayvon Bromell’s 9.94 and  Christian Coleman’s 9.96s which they ran at the US trials, not to mention Jamaica sprinter Usain Bolts 9.69 Olympic record.

Some of the top athletes in the 100 meter women category includes Florence Griffith-Joyner (USA) 10.49s, Carmelita Jeter (USA) 10.64s, Marion Jones (USA)  10.65s, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) 10.70s. Yes, their timing is far better than Blessings 11.02s.

Okagbare will perform in the women 100m, 200m and long jump. She will be joined by Gloria Asumnu, Jennifer Madu, Agnes Osazuwa, Sanni Zainab, Cecilia Francis, Khadija Suleiman and Olivia Ekpone for the women 4x100m relay.

For the women 400m flat and relay, Patience Okon George, Regina George, Margaret Bamgbose, Omolara Omotosho, Yinka Ajayi, Rita Osai, Blessing Mayungbe and Ekundayo Sogbesan made the list.

Other women, according to Todays sport are Oluwatobiloba Amusan (100m hurdles), Amaka Ogoegbunam (400m hurdles), Doreen Amata (high jump) Ese Brume(long jump),Okoro Chinwe (discus), Nwanneka Okwelogu (shot put).

Ogunlewe, Egwero Ogho-Oghene and Edward Monzavous are in for the men 100m. Tega Odele Oghenetega, Divine Oduduru (200m), Orukpe Eraiyokan (400m) Anthon Hicks (110m hurdles), Ukaoma Miles (400m hurdles), Oke Tosin, Olamigoke Olumide (triple jump) and Mozia Stephen Shot Put.


Comparing Nigeria athletes’ performance with their foreign counterpart

200 meters male – Divine Oduduru 20.51secs, Usain BOLT(Jamaica) 19.19s (fastest ever),  LaShawn Merritt (USA) 19.74, Justin Gatlin (USA) 19.75, Ameer Webb (USA) 19.85.

200 meters female – Blessing Okagbare 22.78secs, Dafne Schippers (Netherland)21.93s,  Tori Bowie(USA) 21.99s, Shaunae Miller (Bahamas)22.05s.

400 meters male – Kunle Fasasi 46.22secs, LaShawn Merritt (USA) 43.97s, Kirani James (Grenada) 44.08s, Wayde VAN Niekerk (South Africa) 44.11s.

High Jump male – Theddus Okpara 2.10m, Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) 2.40m, Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy) 2.39m, Derek Drouin (Canada) 2.38m.

400 meters hurdles male – Henry Okorie 50:12s, Johnny Dutch (USA) 48.10s, Yasmani Copello (Turkey) 48.42s, Kerron Clement (USA) 48.50s.

These and many more go to show that our athletes are far behind and except a miraculous improvement in performance occurs, they stand no chance of clinching any medal.

Boxing – Boxing has earned Nigeria medals in the past, David David Izonritei and Richard Igbineghu won silver each at the Barcelona ’92 Olympic Games,  Duncan Dokiwari won the last medal (bronze) for Nigeria at the Atlanta ’96 Olympics, and not to forget Nojim Maiyegun who won Nigeria’s first boxing medal (bronze) at the Tokyo ’64 Olympics.

However, Nigerian boxers have lamented over the Country’s Preparation for boxing in the forth coming Rio 2016 Olympics, from lack of funds and equipment’s to train to lack of participation in major boxing championship. Some even claim not to have boxing gloves.

Retired southpaw boxer Obisia Nwankpa in an interview with Nigeria world news said, “I don’t think we can win medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics. We have some of the best boxers and coaches in Africa…Unfortunately, we have never taken preparations for major competitions seriously. We are a miracle-believing country.

“The Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games take place every four years. While other countries begin their preparations for the Olympics immediately they return home from one, we only train for two or three months. We can’t win medals at the Olympics without taking part in the AIBA World Championships and other major boxing tournaments.”

Football – The Olympic football team known as dream team popularly remembered for winning  gold at the 1996 olympics at Atlanta, USA and silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in China have had their fair share of the poor funding as it was reported that they were on the verge of being evicted from their camp last month. Their doggedness and the commitment of their coach Samson Siasia seems to be their motivation.

So far, Nigerian football is at the lowest after failing to qualify for the 2017 Nations cup and frequent administrative issues, we can only hope for a “Miracle.”

With the inclusion of Mikel Obi in the team, we hope Dream Team VI can do us proud. Nigeria’s first game in Rio is on August 4, 2016 against Japan at the Amazônia Arena,Manaus.

Basketball – Nigeria Men’s Basketball team known as D’Tigers seem to be the most prepared medal hopeful of the Nigerian contingent after defeating their Argentine counterpart 96-92 in a Rio 2016 Olympics preparation game, on Monday July 18, 2016, in the United States.

The 2015 African Basketball champions who are enjoying sponsorship from private organizations will have to up their game if they are to progress from their group.

D’Tigers have been drawn in Group B of the Men’s Olympic Basketball Tournament alongside host Brazil, Lithuania: runners-up of the EuroBasket 2015, Argentina: runners-up of the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship,  Spain: winners of the EuroBasket 2015 and Croatia.

Their first game will be against Argentina on Sunday 7 August 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Arena 1, followed by games against Lithuania and Spain on the 9th and 11th of August 2016 respectively.

We can only hope for the best and wish team Nigeria good-luck as they proceed to Rio for the summer games.

– Olalekan Olonilua for


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