It has not been a roller coaster performance for Nigeria and its athletes at the last four Olympics. In every Olympic year, the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) through the Supervising ministry of sports usually appropriate billions of naira of the tax payers’ money for shoddy preparations of athletes for the Olympics.
However, preparation of athletes for an Olympic event is supposed to be within a stipulated period of four years, and not months before the event. Handlers of various national teams that makes up the NOC are supposed to be empowered to comb the nooks and crannies of the country to harness budding talents, groom and train them continuously for four years; then expose them to taking part in and international/invitational tournaments, and afterwards prepare them psychologically for the Olympics.
It is glaring that one of the bane of Nigeria’s failure in Major tournaments like the Olympics is due to adequate preparations. With barely two years to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there is a looming danger of another abysmal performance and failure. There is no clear cut sports policy to train and retrain our Olympic bound coaches or to fund established and budding athletes. Planning not to prepare adequately for the Olympic game is a recipe for failure and what this simply means is that we only take part in the Olympics just to make up the numbers. By this assertion, it is safe to say that while the administrators wallow ingloriously to waste billions of naira all in the name of preparing athletes for Olympic events, they should equally be subjected to checks and balances and be made to account for each penny spent on preparations.
Nevertheless, one major issue that has to be noted is appointments of sports personnel. It is time the authorities should stop putting a square peg in a round hole. It is pertinent to note that while appointing a minister of sports, someone with a proven track record and antecedent in sports is given the mandate to run the sports ministry. Appointments into National Sports Commission should not be used as a medium to compensate political cronies.
Due process and diligence should be applied before these appointments are made so that individuals who are knowledgeable and endowed in sports administration could use their wealth of experience to run the sporting sector productively.
Well, let me point out that Nigerians have had enough of these Shenanigans and poor showings at recent Olympic events and it is now left for national associations to step up the template to prepare athletes judiciously for a glorious and productive outing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Indeed, another shambolic performance and failing to win medals will be totally unacceptable and will therefore draw the ire of the entire sporting fraternity.
Interestingly, the country is already two years behind in terms of preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and so therefore, the Honorable minister of sports Bar. Solomon Darling should urgently set up a think- tank and planning committee that would be headed by the NOC President Eng. Habu Gumel to initiate an intensive preparation program for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
However, other members of the committee can be drawn from sporting federations in order to make the initiative a worthwhile venture.
Having said all these, deliberate steps must therefore be taken by this propose committee to ensuring that Nigeria’s flag is hosted during medal presentation ceremonies at the Olympics.
In all of these, with the sensitive and meaningful contributions of members that would constitute this think- tank committee, our horrendous showings at the Olympics will become part of history, and athletes will heartily smile to the podium to receive medals upon medals.