Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Cameroon: commentary - dignity in participating

With the general understanding that the Olympic Games are by far the most popular and attractive sport gathering in the world judging from the number of competitions and athletes involved, there is no denying that any victory during such an event brings honour to the athlete and country.

It is evidently on the grounds of defending the country's image at such an international event that the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Philemon Yang, yesterday July 3 moved to the National Olympic Headquarters in Yaounde to deliver the Olympic baton to the athletes. The symbolic event could also carry with it the meaning of the "Olympic Spirit" which John Williams amplified during the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He said the games "seek to inspire today's youth to build a peaceful and better world."

Earlier on Monday July 2, the National Assembly honoured the female National Football team, one of Cameroon's flag bearers at the London Olympics. Thanks to the Network of Parliamentarians for the Promotion of Gender headed by Josephine Fotso, the Lionesses were not only given some financial support and encouraged to remember the "fighting spirit" as prescribed by the Head of State while in London, but they were also given a gist of what it takes to represent the country at such a global level. They participated in the plenary session of the National Assembly chaired by House Speaker, Cavaye Yeguié Djibril.

Looking therefore at the stakes of participating in the Olympic Games, it is hard to end any profound observation at the Olympic Creed which holds that; "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." By qualifying for London 2012, the athletes have invariably demonstrated their love for the country and determination to represent the country in dignity as well.

However, it would not have been a residual fact if the athletes had appeared Parliament dressed in jerseys that carried national colours. Unfortunately, some of the athletes have either not had adequate means to prepare for the competition or even lacked the equipment for training. This is definitely a managerial error that is gradually becoming typical of sports and some officials in the country that hold the destiny of youths in their hands. Often, more time is spent negotiating kick backs and arguing over personal achievements than talking collective interest.

The Olympic motto; "Citius, Altius, Fortius" which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Braver" is also universally accepted to mean; "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." It absolutely requires that even officials in charge of preparing youths for such challenges should create favourable conditions within which the competitors can build self-confidence to excel. In a world where globalisation has made distances and frontiers to shrink dramatically creating doubts in the minds of athletes by not providing them with sufficient means to prepare honourably and to defend the national colours appears like a negation of the Olympic Spirit which requires "mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." In order to ensure a sense of dignity in their efforts to represent Cameroon in London 2012, the Cameroon Olympic Team should focus on the fact that the Olympic spirit equally "seeks to instill and develop the values and ideals of Olympism in those who visit and to promote tolerance and understanding..."

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