This Day (Lagos)

27 October 2012

Nigeria: Only a Miracle Can Deliver Jonathan's Rio 2016 Medals Goal!

After Team Nigeria flopped badly at the London 2012 Summer Olympics there was uproar in the land with the media slamming the nation's poor performance.

Predictably government reacted to the public outcry with no other person than the President himself, Goodluck Jonathan voicing his displeasure and promising government's proper response to ensure that there would not be a repeat at the next Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in four years time.

One of the responses the President made a few days after the London Games finished on August 12 was an overhaul of the sports apparatus in the country.

Just over two months after the pronouncement, government finally came good on its promise by organising a Presidential Retreat on Sports, which held Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

While I must give kudos to the President for finally making it happen, I, however, still harbour my fears at the direction government is taking in an attempt to stem the slide.

Ironically in my piece last weekend titled: 'SA 2013: Now That We've Qualified' I warned on the need for football officials to tone down their rhetoric as regards the chances of the Super Eagles at the Nations Cup finals so as not to place undue pressure on the team.

However, little did I realise that the bug would catch on at the highest levels of government with President Jonathan sticking out his neck to say that he wants Team Nigeria to not only win five gold medals but also top it with 36 medals at the Rio Games!

I must say I was a bit surprised by this statement because in the 60 years and 15 Olympic Games Nigeria has attended (the first being the 1952 Helsinki Games) we have only managed a combined total of 23 medals of which only three have been gold!

And now for Nigeria to win 41 medals (five gold plus 36 others of any colour) all by the time the next Games will take place in just under the four years time, will take nothing but a miracle to achieve. While not doubting the efficacy of miracles I seriously doubt this will happen to Nigeria in 2016!

Even if government is able to back up the razzmatazz of the much publicised retreat with money and other logistics how feasible will it be to discover and then nurture an athlete to Olympic glory within four years?

And knowing the way we operate in this country I seriously have my doubts that this will be possible. Many of us are still yet to feel the impact of the palliatives promised by government in the wake of the January nationwide protests over the hike in fuel price!

Sports Analyst, Ayo Ositelu, harped on this when he bluntly told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that President Goodluck Jonathan's request for 36 medals from Team Nigeria at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games is "totally impossible."

But then like we all know: "With God all things are possible." So perhaps we will all be witnesses to 'the mother of all' miracles come Rio 2016.

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