Rio 2016 Olympics has come and gone and critics seems to have started doing a comparison between Nigeria’s performance at Rio 2016 with that of the London 2012 Olympics which Nigeria also took part in. However, a lot feel there was an improvement because we won a bronze, but how true is this.
First let us tell ourselves the truth as a nation, that we do not have a developmental plan for Sports, and this is actually truncating its development and the kind of result we get during the Olympics, and the result is what we see after each Olympic, but we quickly forget about the poor result and remember it only a few months to the next Olympics.
In the London 2012, Nigeria took part in 8 Sports and won zero medal but at Rio 2016,we took part in 14 Sports and won 1 bronze medal. That may look like an improvement, but the reality is that while we won bronze in football at Rio 2016, Nigeria did not actually qualify for football at the London 2012, leaving us with the fact that football still remains our area of concentration in “Sports development”, while little attention placed on other individual Sports.
Nigerians may argue that there was an improvement in terms of additional sports such as Rowing, Shot Put, Swimming and return of Football, to mention but a few, but the fact remains that a sport such as Taekwondo which also brought us fame in 2008 courtesy of Uche Chukwumerije, was conspicuously missing at Rio, does that also mean improvement? Moreover, the one medal that we won in football is not commensurate with the number of Sports that we entered for.
A country like Kenya that had a total of 13 medals at the Rio Olympics which comprised of 6 gold, 6 silver and 1 bronze worked on their area of strengths and developed it. They considered Track and field events which basically deal with individual sport and they try to make the individual excel. This plan led to the Kenya breaking a new ground, where Jemima Sumgong set a new record to become the first Kenyan woman to win gold at the Olympic Marathon.
Still talking about the subject matter which refers to comparing Nigeria’s performance at the Rio Olympics with London 2012, let me also add here that there was an achievement in area of football, Nigeria has at least completed the feat of winning all the medals available in football after winning the bronze medal. Gold was won in Atlanta 1996, Silver won in Beijing 2008 and Bronze in Rio 2016.
While the above feat may be seen as an achievement, it may also be viewed negatively as a drop in standard, as it is clear that when one achieves success, it is only proper to develop on it. If we achieved gold in Atlanta 1996, why did we drop to Silver in 2008, and drop again to bronze eight years later at Rio 2016? It is obvious that we are not getting something right, it would have just been wonderful if we had won bronze in Atlanta 1996, Silver in Beijing 2008 and Gold in Rio Olympics and not the other way round.
At the London 2012 and in all previous Olympics where Nigeria have participated, the administration was better than that of the Rio 2016 Olympics. There was a case of kits and opening ceremony attire arriving late at Rio Olympics barely two days to the end of event, but this has never happened in Nigeria’s history. The report that the football men team were stranded in Atlanta en route Rio is another clear indication that the administration was bad, it also became worse when the Sports Minister made a public denial of his awareness about their camping in Atlanta.
Nigeria must necessarily get the right persons to manage sports, this is to enable it follow the proper way for sports development in the country. If all the discoveries made at Rio is not properly managed within the next four years, we may end up singing the same song in the year 2020.