Nigeria’s Sports Finest Hour – the XXII Commonwealth Games, Birmingham 2022

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For Nigeria, the year 2022 should be dedicated to Nigerian Athletes, men, and women alike. Their feat and prowess, first, a bit of success in the World Athletics Champions held in Eugene, Oregon, USA (15 Jul 2022 – 24 Jul 2022) and then the spectacular successes at the XXII Commonwealth Games, held in Birmingham, United Kingdom (from 28 July to 8 August 2022), held the attention of our suffering and desolate, hopeless, and despondent, harassed, and insecure Nigerians. At least they lifted our spirits and once again brought some forlorn hope that, if we ONLY we put our efforts, patriotism and internal prejudices and distrust aside, we could really swing it as a united, prosperous Nation, country, people, and society.

 

The Games was the largest ever held, with 72 participating nations and ticket sales of 1.2 million. The games were the first to have more events for women than men.

 

At the end of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the UK, on Sunday, August 7, Team Nigeria amassed 12 Gold, nine Silver and 14 Bronze medals, bringing the numbers to a total of 35 medals. Interestingly, at a time where Nigeria was most divided, nobody was asking where the athletes are from, what ethnic group or religion they belong to. None of that nonsense which has pervaded our lives for the past 8 years.

 

According to the Cable Newspaper, it was a record-smashing outing for Team Nigeria at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham. Medals were raked in at an exceptional rush while Nigerian athletes broke several records in the competition. Team Nigeria won 12 gold medals in the competition — the country’s highest haul in the history of the CWG.

 

Amazingly, all the gold medals were won by female athletes who took the tracks and gymnasiums in Birmingham by storm and wrote their names in the annals of the competition. Tobi Amusan surged to the finish line in 12.30 seconds in the final of the women’s 100-meter hurdles to set a CWG record. Ese Brume registered a record-setting 7-meter leap in the long jump.

 

In the women’s 4×100 meters, the quartet of Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, and Grace Nwokocha cruised to gold while setting a new African record with a time of 42.10 seconds.

 

Lifters like Adijat Olarinoye, Rafiatu Lawal, and Alice Oluwafemilayo also set new CWG records in their respective categories.

 

Nigeria finished the competition with 35 medals — 12 gold, 9 silver, and 14 bronze — to clinch a very creditable Seventh on the Medal’s table on the final day of the glorious competition.

Athletics provided the most medals for Nigeria with 10 podium finishes, followed by Wrestling, with seven.

 

Below is the full list of all 35 medallists for Team Nigeria at the 2022 CWG (Courtesy: The Cable (https://www.thecable.ng/full-list-amusan-brume-nigerias-35-medalists-at-2022-commonwealth-games ):

 

GOLD MEDALISTS

Tobi Amusan — Women’s 100m hurdles

Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Grace Nwokocha, Joy Udo-Gabriel — (Women’s 4 x 100m Relay)

Ese Brume — Women’s LongJump

Odunayo Adekuoroye — Wrestling Women’s Freestyle 57 kg

Blessing Oborududu — Wrestling Women’s Freestyle 68 kg

Genesis Miesinnei Mercy — Wrestling Women’s Freestyle 50 kg

Adijat Olarinoye — Weightlifting Women’s 55kg

Rafiatu Lawal — Weightlifting Women’s 59kg

Alice Oluwafemiayo — Para-powerlifting Women’s Heavyweight

Chioma Onyekwere — Women’s Discus Throw

Goodness Nwachukwu — Women’s Discus Throw F42-44/61-64

Eucharia Iyiazi — Women’s F55-57 Shot Put

 

SILVER MEDALISTS

Favour Ofili — Women’s 200m

Elizabeth Oshoba — Women’s Featherweight Boxing

Ikechukwu Obichukwu — Para-Powerlifting Men’s Heavyweight

Bose Omolayo — Para-Powerlifting Women’s heavyweight

Ifechukwude Ikpeoyi — Para-Table Tennis Women’s Singles Classes 3-5

Nasiru Sule — Para-Table Tennis Men’s Singles Classes 3-5

Taiwo Liadi — Weightlifting Women’s 76kg

Hannah Reuben — Wrestling Women’s Freestyle 76kg

Ebikewenimo Welson — Wrestling Men’s Freestyle 57kg

 

BRONZE MEDALISTS

Udodi Onwuzurike, Seye Ogunlewe, Favour Ashe, Alaba Akintola, Raymond Ekevwo — (Men’s 4 x 100m Relay)

Ugochi Constance Alam — Women’s F55-57 Shot Put

Obiageri Amaechi — Women’s Discus Throw

Ifeanyi Onyekwere — Men’s Super-heavyweight Boxing

Jacinta Umunnake — Women’s Middleweight Boxing

Cynthia Ogunsemilore — Women’s Lightweight Boxing

Innocent Nnamdi — Para-powerlifting Men’s Lightweight

Isau Ogunkunle — Para-Table Tennis Men’s Singles Classes 3-5

Faith Obazuaye — Para-Table Tennis Women’s Singles Classes 6-10

Mary Taiwo Osijo — Weightlifting Women’s 87kg

Islamiyat Yusuf — Weightlifting Women’s 64kg

Edidiong Umoafia — Weightlifting Men’s 67kg

Ogbonna John — Wrestling Men’s Freestyle 74kg

Esther Kolawole — Wrestling Women’s Freestyle 62kg

 

I would urge readers to refer to my article of 22 August 2009 for more history of Nigerian sports ( https://www.inigerian.com/the-death-of-nigerian-sports-and-a-walk-down-memory-lane-958/  It made me proud and cry at the same time.

Nigerian athletes have been appearing at major athletics meeting since 1952. At the All-Africa Games at Brazzaville (former Congo), they piled up an enviable record; where they won one event after the other and came back home with 9 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze medals. Jumoke Bodunrin was one of the stars of that game, and she won the title of “Africa’s fastest woman”.

 

Nigerian athletes first participated officially in the Commonwealth Games in 1954 and they won several medals. In the High Jump, Emmanuel Ifeajuna (yes, the same Major Ifeajuna, a hero of the 1966 coup d’etat) created a new British Empire and Commonwealth Games record by clearing the bar at 6 ft. 8 in.; Nafio Osagie took the bronze in the same event. The Nigerian team also set a new record in the 4 X 100 yards relay by recording the same time of 41.4 seconds as Canada very narrowly beat them into the silver medal position. Another narrow defeat which gave Nigeria a silver medal was on the Hop, Step and Jump (now called Triple Jump) in which Peter Esiri jumped 50 ft 0 ½ in., one inch less than the winner. Nigeria’s third silver medal was won in the Long Jump by Karim A B Olowu. That same team also won 3 bronze medals; one each in High Jump, Long Jump and Boxing and came fourth in the 100 yards.

 

On the whole, it was a successful debut for Nigeria, coming fourth overall behind England, Canada and Australia. In the 1958 Commonwealth games, Nigeria again took silver in the 4 X 100 m Relay, took bronze in 1974 but finally won this event at the 1982 Games.

 

At the Commonwealth Games held in Kingston, Jamaica in August 1966, Nigeria carried away more than half of the gold medals for boxing, won the glamorous long-distance races, shone in the sprints and broke several records.

 

The highlight of Nigeria’s remarkable performance was, however, Violet Odogwu’s success in the women’s Long Jump. She won the bronze medal and had the distinction of being the only African woman to win a medal at the games and she also reached the finals of the 80 metres hurdles.

 

Overall, Nigeria won 3 gold; 4 silver and 3 bronze medals and came 7th  out of the 36 countries which took part in the Games. There were 28 athletes, boxers and swimmers and it showed then in 1966, that Nigeria has a wealth of athletic talents which with more adequate training, facilities and more experience were likely to take her place among the leaders in the world of sports.

 

In my article, “The Death of Nigerian Sports And A Walk Down Memory Lane” (Published 22 August 2009, https://www.inigerian.com/the-death-of-nigerian-sports-and-a-walk-down-memory-lane-958/ ) I wrote “Sometime in 1983, while I was doing my Master’s degree at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, I received a call from a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I guessed he got wind of me being the President of University of Manitoba’s International Students Organisation and a founder of the Nigerian Union of Manitoba. He asked me if I could appear on CBC TV to discuss the phenomenal success of Nigerian athletes who had participated in the World University Games held at Edmonton, Alberta that year. I did not even know that Nigeria was represented at the Games. He told me that Nigeria sent only 10 athletes and these athletes won 5 gold medals. I was proud but hid my ignorance. I accepted and before I appeared on the show, I made sure I knew more about what happened.

 

In that 1983 World University Games; which was the debut year for this event by Nigeria, Chidi Imoh won gold in the 100 metres; Innocent Egbunike (now a coach in the United States) won gold in the 200 metres; Sunday Uti won gold in the 400 metres; Yusuf Ali won gold in the Long Jump and Ajayi Agbebaku won gold in the Triple Jump. All of them were of course, based in the United States, most of them on Nigeria’s scholarship.

 

In subsequent years, Nigeria was to perform creditably at these University games”

Back to the XXII Commonwealth Games. So, after this, euphoric and hopeful success, what next? Does this signal the return of Nigerian Athletics to the world stage? There was a time when Nigeria’s Sprint team/athletes were rated amongst the top/fastest 5 (five) in the world. We do not seem to remember those giddy days. Corrupt, selfish mediocre officials, nepotism, and crazy sports policies (if there was ever any) were the rules of the days. Officials used the opportunities of travelling abroad to collect estacode and shop for wives and girlfriends, abandoning the athletes and even embezzling the money meant for their up-keep and allowances. Funds for grassroot sports development were embezzled and mismanaged by officials. There was in-fighting within the sports associations with ambitious but clueless mediocre official gaining the high seats, only to mismanage the scarce funds and other resources from the sports budgets. And Nigeria Sports spiralled into the abyss.

 

Facilities and equipment are not left out. Yearly, millions are spent on stadium maintenance, but there is nothing to show for it. The National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, was once the envy of the whole world. It was once known as the Sports City, but today it is now called a Garbage City, with the compound turned into drinking dens at night and religious activities during the day.

 

Again, the state of sports in the country shows how daft and unintelligent our politicians are. Sports, especially success in sports, remain one major unifying factor in this our country of diverse cultures and religions. In other Third World countries as diverse as ours, the politicians use sports to defuse unrest, to unify the cultures and religions; they use sports as a diversionary means to get the mind of the masses off their problems, and thereby able to concentrate on governing. Take football for instance, when Nigeria is involved in major competitions, that is when you know that we are actually united and patriotic and everybody, marginalised or not, start waving the green-white-green and shouting “Up Nigeria” and not “Up Niger Delta”, “Up Biafra” or “Up Oduduwa”.

 

Sports could be a tool for a patriotic politician. If Nigeria wins in any sports event, we will not mind them taking the credit, although we know they have not contributed anything to such success.

Corporate help is needed and companies such as Shell, Globacom, MTN, etc are already doing their best, but are given very little encouragement or support by the government. In fact, the money these corporations pour into sports in Nigeria practically end up in the pockets of corrupt civil servants in the Sports ministries and other government officials.

 

In Nigeria of today, despite the economic downturn, there is no reason why each local government should not have a moderate sports stadium in its area, where schools in their respective areas can hold their annual inter-house sports, and local boys and girls can display their sports talents. This is called grassroots sports.

 

Sports, like many other areas of governance in Nigeria, have been neglected mainly due to corrupt and inept governance. There are no incentives for budding athletes; corrupt officials embezzle money meant for sports development; the sports facilities are ill-equipped or not even equipped at all; and the facilities themselves are deteriorating and underused; sports management and administration are poor and run by ill-trained, ill-motivated officials whose only purpose is that of making money, or at worst, are happy to have a job; competent sports administrators are not given a chance to input ideas and actions to effect changes, and are always shut out of decision making processes; and there are no longer grass-roots sports development in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to discover talents.

 

It is the likes of the athletes of the XXII CWG that can give us some hope, and I’m sure the Sports Minister, Mr Sunday Dare, will be basking in this success during his tenure, though he might have contributed very little to the success.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Rio 2016 – Why We Really Failed

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Read Time:15 Minute, 18 Second

Just a few days after the just concluded Rio Olympics, Mariam Usman, a Commonwealth medallist, said she has lost the urge to represent Nigeria at international events. She was the only weightlifter that represented Nigeria in Rio, where she competed in the +75 category and amassed 265 kg. She finished 8th in her group. Her words: “It is painful to come to the Olympics and see people who are your contemporaries perform better than you; not because you lack the ability but because you were not prepared like them….I can only consider going to another Olympics if things change for the better. But if the status quo is maintained, I don’t think I will go to another Olympics again. Olympic gold medal (or any medal for that matter – my own input) doesn’t come cheap. It is painful that one has to suffer and when competition comes they expect you to win a medal with your blood. The people you have to compete with had everything they needed: training grants, competitions and are exposed to the most modern equipment. I had nothing. You don’t expect such people who have invested so much to lose to one who don’t even train adequately.”

Only four years ago, in Nigeria, the top leaders of sports were at a Presidential Retreat to discuss London 2012 debacle and to lay a solid ground work for Rio 2016. Sometime in 2013 the media showed the top echelon of sports administration hunkering up to create a high performance programme for Nigerian sports and therefore deliver medals for Nigeria at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but because of politics and power play at the upper echelons of government as well as reported strong resistance by the top civil servants to this Bolaji Abdullahi-led initiative, all these efforts, as we have now seen happen, turned out to be in vain. It's time to start planning for Tokyo, and hopefully there will be some sense this time.

However, for those urging and hoping that Nigeria would start preparing for Tokyo 2020 Olympics immediately, we may already be too late.  Nigerian officials, whether sports or in other areas of our governance, are not built for preparedness – readiness is an alien activity to them. If they are ready, there will not be money to mismanage or divert, and nepotism to be effected. The British Olympic Association (BOA) has already visited and inspected prospective preparation camps in Tokyo three times in the past one year and will be finalizing arrangements in October this year. Also the developmental cycle for BOA is eight years, meaning that they will this year identify and begin to groom athletes that will represent Great Britain in the 2024 Olympics. In other words, for Tokyo 2020, the BOA started 4 years ago!!! That is what is called PREPARATION TO SUCCEED.

BOA invested for twenty years to achieve their leadership position at number two at Rio 2016. Nigeria has not started at any rudimentary level yet, so four years is nowhere near enough in a system so suffused with corruption and measured maladministration; that puts square pegs in round holes; and that places mediocrity over merit every time and that is always engaging in “fire-brigade” and “last minute panic” approaches to everything  it does, even in governance. The rest of the world invests, commits and continues to move on in a 21st century which has no place for the 19th century. This has been said over and over again and we keep saying it. The problem is that the people who are "at the top" either don't understand or are deliberately unwilling to actually turn sports around in this country, or both and more. Unfortunately for us, these people, these top dogs civil servants are virtually untouchable. They are the Alpha and Omega of sports in Nigeria; they call the shots; and even the politicians placed above them to “minister” over them, are scared stiff of them.

It is unlike us to ever start in time. We always like crisis management in a world that's daily perfecting scientific long-term management by the day. Our result at the Olympics was so woeful but that is not unexpected with zero planning and the reported vanishing of appropriated funds over the years. That will not be unlike us. It's garbage in garbage out. It is difficult, if not outright impossible, to get the right answer from the wrong input. The name of the game is a well-considered enduring plan and honest finishing. This is the only thing that will attract sponsorship by corporate organizations. As things stand, there is nothing to show that we have begun to come to terms with the problems talk less the solutions. Unless and until we do, the Jamaicas of this world will excel while we will still come back, year in, year out to make up the numbers and then bemoan our problems and failures.

But look ahead we must! We must look at what Britain did after Atlanta ‘96. We cannot politicise sports and expect professional results. Neither can we have complete mediocre and charlatans running our sports and expect to do well at international sports events. Mediocrity and charlatanism will always breed corruption, which ends up affecting preparations for major sports events.

UK Sports has done very well since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA. I can't describe what they have done here. Funded mostly by the National Lottery,  funding of its athletes has increased almost 400%, talent hunting and catch them young, local or grassroots sports was funded and encouraged, more facilities provided,  etc. That is a country that went for it. They have never had it so good since they realized from what they achieved in Beijing 2008, what was missing in their sports and decided to correct them. For the second position that Team GB took at the Rio Olympics, they worked for every medal, they paid for every medal; according to Team GB and UK Sports, every medal they won was worth four (4) million pounds sterling; being the amount they invested in the athletes that represented Britain at the games.

I don't see Nigeria doing that. Nepotism, favouritism, corruption, hypocrisy, square pegs in round holes and cultural inhibitions will not let us do it, despite the fact that we used to do it before, an example being you yourself as a product of when we were serious and focused.

So why did Nigeria fail, or rather, why didn’t Nigeria win more than just the one bronze medal in the soccer event?  Unfortunately, it had precious little to do with the Sports Minister Dalung! He is just the man who inherited a sabotaged and already sunk boat as I discovered…we have deeper problems than the beret wearing activist! In fact, recent revelations revealed that the Minister did his best to alleviate the problems faced by the athletes, but at every turn, he was sabotaged by both the Sports Ministry officials and the Nigeria Football Federation, including the coach of the bronze-winning football team himself (I refer to the Atlanta hotel accommodation fiasco and the airplane debacle).

“Research shows that investment into sport in developing countries is much less than in developed countries, as sport development is usually not a top priority in the national budget or in the education system of most developing countries. Studies show that a ‘vicious cycle’ is emerging as a result of the underdevelopment of sport in developing countries, in which lower investment in sport decreases the potential for athletes to build their talent. It also means that there are fewer prospects for athletes to continue their sport training or pursue professional sport careers in a developing country. In turn, the lack of talent-building opportunities in a developing country leads to less return on the little investment put into local talent, further debilitating local sport development structures and sport career pathways. Less developed countries are unable to utilise the talent of their strong performers and/or tend to lose them to more powerful nations in global sport. Sport regulated by global processes can thus contribute to the underdevelopment of a developing country’s talent”.Underdevelopment of sport in developing countries – http://www.sportanddev.org/en/learnmore/sport_and_economic_development/underdevelopment_of_sport_in_developing_countries/

To his credit, ex-President Jonathan funded a high performance structure that was established in 2013. The chaps at the corruption-ridden, indolent and mediocre-packed National Sports Commission ensured its death. They worked against it until it ultimately failed. They drove the then Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi out. They strangulated the programmes of the various identified sports federations; the usage of the billions earmarked for the project cannot be explained; they didn't pay the foreign experts on time and hardly followed their advice. They didn't build and utilise the high performance centre projected as at when due. They refused to fund the preparatory programmes of the sports federations even after asking them to submit their 2016 Rio Olympic roadmaps. Many sports presidents are said to still be owed monies for international programmes they had to raise money to attend dating back many years. To top it all, the defunct NSC and now Ministry of Sports routinely hijacks the role and powers of the Nigerian Olympic Committee, NOC in preparing and disbursing funds for the major events. They did not do this for altruistic reasons or to save funds for other projects, but mainly and solely to divert the money into other purposes. Where are the billions said to have been set aside for Rio since 2013?

Frustrated, in November 2015, the hired American High Performance Director, Angie Taylor predicted that Team Nigeria could record a disastrous outing at the 2016 Olympics Games scheduled for Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, maintaining that no proactive step was being taken by NSC leadership to avert a fresh no-medal show during the 2016’s most glamorous sporting showpiece, adding “You go and ask the leadership how prepared they are because with what I can see, there is no preparation in place. Nigeria will have to qualify first before talking about going to the Olympics. You have to ask them why they couldn’t make the athletes go for qualifiers which they ought to go since early this year.”

The NSC it seemed was made up of powerful and untouchable Civil Servants who are very much opposed to new ideas, and do not tolerate reformists. They don't like anyone getting in the way of their business as usual pipelines. Even at the Presidency it was rumoured that Minister Dalung's request for funding for Rio 2016 was "delayed" for several weeks until he could see President Buhari in person. What this indicates is that those who corruptly benefit immensely from the previous government’s style of “see me first" are still at the upper echelon of civil service.

Various committees that were established to prepare for the Olympics were all scrapped one after the other by succeeding henchmen at the defunct NSC who the media says would have produced the goods, and the new Ministry of Sports continued in like manner.

In most of the countries that excel in sports, especially football, it is business. In countries where there are restrictions or the sports are in rudimentary stages, individuals of those countries look abroad and invest in other countries' sports. Examples are Chinese, Russians, Middle East sheiks who have invested heavily in the English Premier League. However, the problem in Nigeria is the centralization of everything. Sports should be taken out of the hands of government somehow (I will admit there is a lot of business risks involved here), but with government creating an enabling environment, erecting and providing infrastructures and providing incentives to private investors.

The truth is: it is Government's responsibility to show the way. Three sports ministers in three years and a lack of financial independence of sports federations are hardly confidence-giving. When, as occasional as it happens, they get private or corporate sponsors, it is still government account that the corporate or individual sponsors will pay this money into, and the elected president is not a signatory to the money, so he chases the civil servants up and down to get access to the money; in most cases they don’t get it, or if they do, only in trickles which negates the effective use of such funds. There is therefore a system where Government doesn't fund sports yet controls the funds raised externally. However, for the big Games it is Government's first responsibility to finance the preparation and participation of athletes and teams. Britain spent £4million for every medal they won in Rio 2016! That's reality.

The role of governments in sports development in every country in the world is well documented, easily available and adaptable to our special circumstance, but the challenges the government should address are as follows:

1.    How to address the recent decline in sports performance excellence in the country, and deliver a long-term sustainable increase in participation and success at international level;

2.    What type(s) of sports areas should be encouraged and how should they be measured;

3.    How to ensure that funding goes to those who can best deliver results, and not corruptly mismanaged;

4.    How to specifically target under-represented and under-privileged  groups across the country;

5.    How to develop, encourage and sustain grass-root sports as well as “catch them young” programs;

6.    Understanding the role of the private sector, and how public sector bodies, sports federations and other sports bodies should work with the private sector to help deliver sporting excellence or improvement;

7.    How to best support new and/or non-traditional sports and activities;

8.    How to maximise the potential of new technology to increase sports performance;

9.    How to use the power of sport to achieve broader positive social outcomes and whether some funding should specifically be spent for that purpose.

So, can we hope we will start preparing for future international tournaments and games? We can only hope. LikeBobby Knight, coach of the U.S.A. men's basketball team that won the 1984 Olympic gold medal said “The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

We need dedicated and totally incorruptible officials; we need knowledgeable and skilled officials; we need motivators; we need funding and very heavy investment from the federal government; we need the federal government to be very much interested in sports and the benefit and goodwill it brings to them, as a government and to the people of this country; we need to separate sports from politics, tribalism and religious intolerance; we need infrastructures to be rehabilitated or constructed; we need to start treating our athletes and other sportsmen and women right; we need to start identifying the right people to run sports in this country and not allowing opportunists and charlatans from getting into the sports federations; we need private and corporate sponsors who will be given all the incentives and conducive environment to enable them recoup their investment or at least, be appreciated nationally for doing so.

We need grassroots sports to be revived or invigorated – schools sports, national sports festivals, university and polytechnic games, corporate-sponsored sports tournaments, etc.; we need overseas scholarships for potentially successful athletes; talent hunting and management of sportsmen and women in areas of sports that we want to concentrate and excel on.

The Ijaws and Ilajes are known for their swimming prowess; why don’t we talent-hunt them, pick the best, educate and train them in the finesse and skills of international swimming? The Igbos are supposed to take wrestling as a virility test for men; can’t we exploit this talent and potential? The Hausas are known for their ability to fight with their feet, so why not pick some at a local festival; and train them in taekwondo? Edo and Delta boys are good footballers; I don’t care if the entire Nigerian teams are made up of them, as long as it is Nigeria that is written on their kit.

Nigeria used to excel or at least perform creditably in sports like table tennis, football, wrestling, boxing, weight-lifting, taekwondo, and used to occupy the top international rankings in themen’s and women’s 100, 200 and 400 meters; let us concentrate on these sports that we can excel in or has reasonable chances of winning laurels, and let’s fund and motivate them. Kenya and Ethiopia discovered a long time ago that long distance running is their forte, and they concentrated on providing the world’s best athletes in this area of athletics. This is what UK Sports and the British Olympic Committee have been doing to get them their recent success. They rated each sports area and measured their chance of success in each and funded them accordingly. For example, they went for these three events – swimming, sailing (rowing) and bicycling events – funding the athletes and facilities more heavily than some other sports, and they got many medals of various colours to show for their investment. The next sports they funded more heavily were in athletics, and only in selected events.

I might sound so optimistic or perhaps, unrealistic here – where is the money, where are the facilities, where is the commitment, where are the officials, where are the athletes, etc.? But, we have to start somewhere; something we are always saying we are going to do, but never does.

But start somewhere, we must!

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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The 2016 Rio Olympics and the Perpetual Failure of a Nation

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Read Time:15 Minute, 4 Second

As we ecstatically inch towards the finale of the greatest sports fiesta in the world, the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil, it is becoming increasingly apparent to many Nigerians that this time, Nigeria is going to end up without a single medal of any colour in any of the sports event. In fact, we may not even be in any of the finals of any sport, except perhaps, football, our current saving grace. But before I go on, let me appreciate  and say Thanks and Kudos to our motley crew of athletes who, despite all the obstacles hurled in their way by insensitive and inept officials, are still competing for their fatherland, and giving it best they could, under the extenuating circumstances.

Watching Rio 2016 Olympics athletics events is a sad reminder and unarguable confirmation of how far backwards Nigerian athletics – and indeed, sports – has gone. While it is very heartening to watch a South African win the 400 meters men in world record time and a Botswanan finishing fifth, it is instructive to note that Nigeria was not represented in that event. Also, the other day an Ivorian lady came fourth in the women's 100 meters; again no Nigerian made it through to the finals. To think that not too long ago, at least in Africa, the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters were the exclusive preserve of Nigeria, male and female. I really do wonder……

So, shaking my head, what is the matter with our track and field athletes, and again, indeed, sports? Our athletes are simply not performing (that is, those few ones we see), and whose fault? Definitely, I will not pass the blame on the athletes; rather, it is the fault of our mediocre, corrupt and unpatriotic sports administrators and the indifferent Nigerian government itself. The people, this time, take my vote; we are as enthusiastic, supportive and patriotic as ever and always.

One thing is clear and salient, Nigeria has got the talents – harnessing these talents and making them world champions will remain so very elusive as long as those in authority continue to be inept, lethargic, unconcerned, self-centred, self-serving, serving sectional interests, practicing nepotism, putting mediocrity before meritocracy and lacking vision and focus.  The lack of cohesion, the lack of adequate preparation for international events, the absence of unity, the overwhelming ethnicity complete the major reasons why we don't do well in sporting activities these days… and I might add, in everything we do.

Oh! The days of Chidi Imoh, Innocent Egbunike, Sunday Bada, Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya, Francis Obikwelu, Soji Fasuba, Henry Amike, Yusuf Alli, Olapade Adenekan, Osmond and Davidson Ezinwa, Deji Aliu, Glory Alozie, Christy Opara, Beattie Utondu, Chioma Ajunwa, Olabisi Afolabi, Regina George, Charity Opara, Clement Chukwu, Adewale Olukoju, Fatima Yusuf, Moses Ugbisien, Airat Bakare Adejobi, Alimat Sadiat Sowunmi Barnes, Carol Lyn Nwajei, Kehinde Vaughan, Linda Ezemokumo, Linda Ige, etc. They don't make them like these anymore. These may not have won Olympic medals or World Championship medals, but they have won in Africa and made their marks on the international stage too. Most of them were highly globally ranked and respected; gave Nigeria respect and dignity in athletics, and did their best for this country.
Olukayode Thomas (Playthegame.com of 09.08.2007) in his article, The Sorry State of Nigerian Sports, wrote “It is shocking that officials of NSC are not concerned that about a decade ago, for every eight lanes in the women 400m at either the European circuit or the IAAF Grand Prix, it was certain that four of the athlete would be Nigerians. Then we had three consistent 49.00 secs runners in Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotayo, Charity Opara and Fatimah Yusuf. The last of the four, Bisi Afolabi was then a consistent 50.00 secs runner. But officials of NSC are not bothered by any of the above. Nor are they bothered that a few years ago, Nigerian female sprinters like Mary Onyali, Gloria Alozie, Christy Okpara, Beatrice Utondu, Ajunwa, Mary Tombiri etc. rivalled the likes of Gwen Torrence, Gail Devers and others for honours in major games and championships.
 
They have forgotten that not too long ago Olapade Adeniken, the Ezinwa twin brothers, Davidson and Osmond, Daniel Effiong. Francis Obikwelu, Seun Ogunkoya, Sunday Bada, Clement Chukwu, etc. were among the best sprinters and quarter-milers in the world. They also don't seem to remember that apart from the Americans, Nigeria's relay teams were the most dreaded in the world not too long ago. NSC officials do not realise that unless they go back to organising monthly classics and other developmental programmes and the American school system, we will never get back to where we were before, talk less of surpassing it.
 
It was local developmental programmes that led to the discovery of such phenomenal talents like Ajunwa, Bada, Afolabi, Ogunkoya, Obikwelu, Alozie, Nduka Awazie, Angela Atede, Rosa Collins, Innocent Asonze, Opara, Deji Aliu and others too numerous to mention, while the American school system gave as the likes of Ogunkoya-Omotayo, Onyali, Chidi, Imoh, the Ezinwa Brothers, Pat Itanyi, Fatimah Yusuf, Innocent Egbunike, Adewale Olukoju, Chima Ugwu, Vivian Chukwuemeka and others.
 
NSC top shots have not thought it wise to revive the programmes of the past, which worked so well. What appears paramount to them are promotional events, and obviously the megabucks that goes with them”.

Compatriots please read and digest the above. What has changed? Nothing! Has anything been learnt? No! Isn’t it painful that NOBODY ever listens or learns from mistakes and history? Are we cursed to be saddled by unthinking and mediocre administrators in all areas of our lives in this country? Why are we always applying “fire brigade” approaches to all our preparations? Ours is a classic case of “if you fail to prepare, then be prepared to fail” – and this has been happening since time immemorial. Our inept administrators never fail to prove and confirm their ineptitude.

In my article, “The Death of Nigerian Sports And A Walk Down Memory Lane”, published in 22 Aug 2009, I wrote: “We were on our way then, because in subsequent years, Nigerian sport was improving splendidly, nurtured by disciplined, sincere, honest, focused, dedicated and committed sports administrators such as the late Abraham Ordia, Isaac Akioye, Dan Enajekpo, Dr Awoture Eleyeae etc. They practically lived for athletics, a trait that is hard to come by in present-day managers. Then the roof, or rather the sky, fell on Nigerian sports the moment the likes of Amos Adamu came in with their one main ambition – make as much money as they can. And they did make money”. But the country’s sports have been on a downward spiral since they took over.

In that article, I proffered many solutions, advice and called on the government of Nigeria to please realise the importance of sports in governance. We do not need to win tens of gold medals in any international competition, but to perform well and creditably; for our athletes to be proud they contested, and for upcoming youths to be interested and looking forward to represent their country and for that country to be proud of them too.

Grassroots sports development remains a programme on paper; sports facility development and welfare of athletes are lip service; poor funding and no call for private investments; the decay in sports is a reflection of the decay in Nigeria. Look at our efforts in recent past at sanitising the sports industry and see what obtains today. How do we expect to be victorious without any worthwhile effort, sacrifice and necessary prerequisite to be competitive in the world – little or no funding or adequate preparations were made to compete with world-class competition…..it's a no brainer. ….we cannot reap where we don’t sow. We refuse to invest in our youths, in our sports, in our education; so what do we expect from those youths who are the backbones of sports in any country? Then we install mediocre and corrupt officials to manage our sports.

Rather than make progress, we are retrogressing. This is beyond corruption. We just keep having inept people who know nothing about sports running sports. That's another problem – putting square pegs in round holes, all because of nepotism, political narrow-mindedness and blatant ethnicity.

On the Africa medals table, South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia and Egypt are ruling the roost with medals; these are also more progressive African economic hubs, let us face it. Globally the US, Great Britain, China, Japan, Germany are on top … again these are global economic and industrial giants. If only we understood how a sound economy impacts on so many things positively, we would not trifle with it.

There is a very strong correlation between sports achievement and economic and industrial progress. In a country where people are impoverished, unemployed, unloved and uncared for by their own leaders and government, living day by day in an unjust, unequitable and corrupt society, where in every area of endeavour and governance, there is no level playing field, there is no opportunity to excel, there is no chance to spread your wings, failure is bound to be the outcome of any competition that the government embarks on. It is there for all to see in EVERY area of our lives.

Now comes the question of Nigerian nationals now competing for other countries, notably, Asian and Middle-east countries? Do we blame them? Why are others still competing for Nigeria despite all that Nigeria has NOT done for them, if that is our grouse against our country’s attitude? Why are you still a Nigerian yourself? (and if you say you're not Nigerian anymore, why are you reading this article and interested?) Why are some athletes still doing things for Nigeria when they have seen that Nigeria MAY not do anything for them in return?

Somebody said Patriotism is reciprocal; No, it is not (my opinion). It is one way. You are either patriotic to your country or you're not. Like the famous JF Kennedy saying goes, “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”. Yes, our rulers are bad, but also our people, the followers, are bad too. It is a societal problem. We have all contributed to the demise of EVERYTHING in Nigeria. I do not believe there is an excuse for abandoning or not representing one’s country of birth when the opportunity arises.

Our country itself, NIGERIA, is not a bad country, God knows; it is the people, rulers and followers alike, in it who are messing it up. Didn't we have the American-born Nigerian professional rower, Chierika Ukogu, who probably paid her own way to the Olympics, rowing for Nigeria? She's probably never been to Nigeria, and probably bought her gear from her savings. The Nigerian Olympic Basketball team consist mostly of American-born Nigerians who came together to represent Nigeria from their base in the US.

We have to change the system; we have to change the leaders; we need to educate our people. It is our country. It belongs to all of us, not greedy, clueless, corrupt charlatans parading themselves as leaders, senators and legislators. Please this is NOT about Politics or Party Politics. It is about a natural desire for us to be a good country, a good people, a progressive people.

How can our athletes and sportsmen/women give good performance with no preparations or trainings? It is the fault of the mediocre people that are everywhere in Nigeria. It’s the fault of the system. Sometimes the best are not picked because those that will go have godfathers and mothers. How can they compete with people who prepare and train year in, year out and have been doing so since their country qualified for the next Olympics. Since 1998, UK Sports has increased its funding to its athletes about 300%, and this paid off when London hosted the Olympics in 2012. Their commitment, efforts, vision, focus, resources, and funding has paid off again at the Rio Olympics. They invested in their athletes; the country reaped the benefits, the fame, and most importantly, the goodwill of their citizens, who are happy and proud every time a medal of any colour is won for Great Britain. Yet, the British Government itself contributes very little to the funding of their athletes. This is left for the independent UK Sport to raise funds, mostly from the National Lottery, to support promising athletes and sports that they feel they will get the most medals and mileage.

In my country, there is no proper diet; no regular training schedule; very little funding (and the little funding, the officials still put into their own pockets); there are no more serious sport programmes to nurture new talents; youth empowerment is zero; the motivation and drive is no more there and I think the system of picking these athletes is seriously biased. They don't pick the best anymore.

Bad leadership begets a bad system ….and when the system is bad, nothing works! Our leaders do not seem to care about sports; this is visible when you see them getting fat and unfit whilst in power; going about in agbada, babariga and feathered caps; and not allocated needed funding for sports. The National Stadium in Lagos; the Abuja Stadium, the Liberty (now Obafemi Awolowo) Stadium and the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan, all lying almost derelict, rare or no sporting activities, except uses for religious and entertainment activities. The stadia have been converted to “pepper-soup” joints, where even the rent that commercial tenants pay fail to be recorded into the account of the Sports Commissions that own these stadia, and end up in the pockets of the Commission officials.

Our rulers do not know anything; their minds are totally shut out from ideas and knowledge; they are irresponsible, obdurate and tyrannical. They are devoid of any inspiration to do things for their country, only to loot. They don't know sports make the country great and famous. The only 'sports' they know is corruption and oppression of the masses. They do not know the role that sports plays in national development, youth empowerment, employment, health, good governance, acceptability and respect in the comity of nations. They do not know that sports promote unity and people cohesion; promotes security and negates dissent and grumbling from the people. They do not know sports is a tool of governance.

The key is the re-introduction of an autonomous National Sports Commission headed by a technocrat .Their remit will be for development of sports in the country, and to raise funds which will then be matched by the government after due accountability. Coaches and sports administrators should be employed and posted to the geo- political zones and to all the States and the various sports Associations. This will also assist in creating jobs for the youths on the streets. The talent scouts should be all over the country, helping to organise grassroots sports to identify budding talents that they can then groom to world standard. School Sports should be revivified and brought to the fore .The School Sports have always been producing national athletes in the old days. Foreign-based athletes always compete against home-based to pick jersey. Most often the Local based have always been defeating foreign based then. The overseas scholarship should be brought back for budding talents to go to America to gain more – this is how we produce Chidi Imoh, Innocent Egbunike, Mary Onyali, etc

In the days of these athletes mentioned, there was a pride to being a Nigerian, a certain sense of belonging and patriotism; zeal to project Nigeria…. All of these fuelled the very ingredient of representation through TALENT HUNTING!

Every government, past and present, military or democratic, federal, state or local, is to be blamed. Nigerians in the past that did well in sports did it out of sheer determination and a hope that sports issues would improve in the country. But they have realised that every Nigerian government does not care about its citizens, neither do the government keep to its promises. So, those who represent us now are not only ill-prepared but have been emotionally drained. I learnt that those who went to Rio were told to pay for their flights and warned to fly economy. If this is so, how can they perform well when they have a lot of other worries on their minds?

Simply put, our sports are just a reflection of who and what we are – a nation without pride, dignity, credibility, vision, focus; led, ruled and ruined by mediocre people of dubious character and pseudo-patriots.

There are thousands of Niger Delta natural swimmers, but those who run our sports would never look that way as these people do not belong. Archery should be natural to the core north, but the Almajeri system is an entrenched social system that forbids schooling, not to talk of sports participation.

When the wicked ones are in the position of governance, the nation mourns and when the righteous ones are in the position of governance, the nation rejoices. This is a true reflection of the current happenings across every sector in Nigeria. Current happenings beg for proper and ideal solutions. We all have gone to sleep in Nigeria and it is time to wake up to the reality of the current times.

Things have fallen apart. We have failed and are still failing, ourselves. But the hope is that we can still rescue ourselves from these self-inflicted failures.

Will we be saying the same thing in four years’ time?

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Rejected Olympic sports: 5 new events you won’t be seeing in Sochi

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The Olympic Village, Russia — If you have the feeling that the 2014 Olympic Games are a little short on activities, give yourself a medal. Five brand-new sports created for Sochi’s big show were shot down without getting as much as a singe from the Olympic flame.

 

Only “slopestyling” survived, but it looks like just another excuse for getting Shaun White off the couch. Meanwhile, five exciting events have been scratched due to politics, physics or a little of both. Here’s what you’ll be missing:

 

Ice Bowling

This innovation was to be played on the curling lanes, giving them a second purpose. Ice bowling combines the slippery qualities of curling with the mathematical challenges of scoring furious ten-pin action. Unfortunately, the curlers and the bowlers couldn’t decide who was going to bring the cigarettes and the Budweiser, so the  new sport was shelved.   Also: the Russian authorities were never thrilled with the notion of citizens renting their shoes.

 

Freestyle Bobsled

What happens when you take four-man bobsleds out of their restrictive course and get them out in the open?  What happens when you send them down one of the steepest peaks in Sochi, freestyle, letting the drivers find the fastest way to the bottom? 

 

Trees happen. Cliffs happen. Avalanches happen. Collisions between sleds happen. Don’t ever ask those questions again.

 

Pole Taunting

Children the world over can’t pass up a frozen pole in the winter without testing it with their  tongues. They make a game of it. The kid who can keep his tongue on the pole the longest without getting it stuck frozen is the winner.

 

The competition committee thought that the game would translate directly into an Olympic event simply by lengthening the time each contestant would have to remain on the pole. What they discovered was an immutable law of physics: “The length of time a body part remains in contact with a  sub frozen object is inversely proportional to the body part’s possibility of survival.” Donations can be sent to the Sochi School for  Speech Therapy. And don’t send soup. It’s hard to eat soup without a tongue.

 

Snowmobile Demo Derby

Fill an Olympic hockey rink with 50 snowmobiles, 50  hay bales, 50 snowmobile drivers and   a douche with a checkered flag.  Congratulations, you have just winterized  the classic demolition derby. Unfortunately, all those snowmobiles have motors that give off massive quantities of carbon monoxide, making them unsuitable for indoor use.

 

 â€œOur test audience alerted us to that fact by falling asleep shortly into the first event,”  said Herb Booker, director of Olympic ice surfaces and cocktail franks.  “We’re looking for work around. It’s not every day that a sport so violent that even the audience is knocked out.”

 

Show Dog Iditarod

This wanna be event combines the elegance of an uptown dog show with the grittiness of an Alaskan-style dogsled race.  Grizzled huskies and other powerful breeds are replaced in the harnesses by poodles, pugs and Pomeranians.  

 

“Sadly, our research into this event overlooked the fact that some participating countries value dog meet  as a delicacy,” said Sally Ramshackle, “That limited us to running the race only once, as a demonstration event, due to a sudden lack of contestants. But those who attended said it was exciting and delicious.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Okagbare, Odumosu jostle for Penn Relays medals

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Nigerian women sprinters are hoping to record world class performances and win medals as the Penn Relays reach its climax today in Penn Relays in Philadelphia, USA.

The event began on Thursday amidst heightened security measures after the Boston Marathon bombing penultimate Sunday.

Blessing Okagbare, Endurance Abinuwa, Gloria Asumnu and Olivia Kazie represented Nigeria in the 4x100m, while Ajoke Odumosu, Bukky Abogunloko, Regina George and Idara Otuh filed out for the women 4x400m. Coach Innocent Egbunike and Victor Omagbemi accompanied the athletes.

“The Penn Relays will give us the chance to see where we are as we approach the outdoor season. We’ve seen some encouraging displays already at the European Indoors and also some strong performances last weekend,” said British Athletics coach, Terrence Mahon.

“I have no doubt that the team assembled have every chance of winning the first medal for Great  Britain at the event, but as with every year, the relays attract some strong opposition, so we’ll have to be at our very best.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Warri dazzles Africa as AYAC 2013 begins

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The  stadium was full, the ambiance superb and Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan walked with his shoulders soaring above his height.

Thousands of fans, many of them school children cheered ceaselessly as he stepped into the Warri township stadium for the opening ceremony of Africa Youth Athletics Championship otherwise known as AYAC Warri, 2013.

He went round the stadium and the students cheered him on with so much passion that he occasionally reached out  for a ‘high five’ with some of them  who were cheering and thrusting their hands. Each time he did so, they went wild in celebration.

The students were there to watch young athletes from the continent take to the tracks in a youth event that could make them world beaters. And when the opening ceremony started, 34 African countries were in the stadium. The crowd was unprecedented in track and field in Nigeria. Not even football attracts such crowd.

The facilities were first class and the brief show entertaining. A cultural show had gone on after Africa’s Queen of the tracks Mary Onyali Omagbemi sang the National Anthem. A historic relay followed. 86-year-old Awoturo Eleaya started and the baton went to Tony Urhobo, Victor Omagbemi, Ogho Egwero and the daughter of Onyali, Tia  Alero who together with Elaeya handed the baton to Uduaghan.

It was a symbol of some transition from the past generation of great athletes of Delta origin to the present and the future as represented by Tia who is already running in the United States. They handed over to Uduaghan to keep up his good work in sports development. Uduaghan said he was keeping the baton not only as a souvenir but a reminder of the race he must continue to run for sports in Nigeria.

’’It’s only in the World Championships and Olympics that I have seen such an atmosphere and facilities,’’ Duro Ikhazuaegbe, Sports Editor of Thisday said, adding ‘’Delta has raised the bar tremendously.’’ Dare Esan, a known Track and Field reporter showered encomiums on the facilities and said ‘’this is good, this is beautiful for Africa.’’

’’We can’t believe this is a youth competition. The facilities, the atmosphere and the organisation. This is good for our sport,’’ Haman Said from Djibouti said. He is an official. Their coach Para Navello repeatedly said ‘’great, great, great,’’ blowing a kiss to fully express himself.

Head of Confederation Africa Athletics Marketing Department Aminata Gueye shook her head several times and said ‘’this is amazing, it’s crazy. We don’t get this in senior championships.’’

Moses Bantsi from Botswana who represented President of CAA Ahmed Kalkaba appeared emotional in his speech:  ‘’Africa is at home in DeltaState. The championships will create an venue for kids in Africa to compete with their mates at the world level.

We thank the Governor of the state as well as the people of Warri for creating the atmosphere to stage a competition of this magnitude. We are at home here and it’s been a great feeling. Nigeria is our country, DeltaState is our state and Warri is our city.’’

Sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi commended the state for the facility they put up and said that the competition would afford young talents in Africa to show their skills and develop from there. Dr. Uduaghan welcomed all to Warri, wished them a wonderful stay and declared the championship open amidst cheers. Before then, popular artist Inyanya had thrilled the crowd.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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What AYAC Warri 2013 means to Nigeria, Africa – Uduaghan

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Amaju Pinnick has never been this exhausted, not even when he was preparing Delta’s team for the last National Sports Festival which Delta won sensationally in Lagos.

Then his directors, fellow Delta State Sports Commission board members and aides went around training camps ensuring that the coaches were up and doing. His job then was simply to prepare the Delta team. It is different in Warri where he has been leading the Local Organising Committee for the Africa Youth Athletics Championships that will end on Sunday.

In Warri, Amaju is not only in charge of organisation but also in charge of all the countries that are in Nigeria for this maiden edition of a championship that Confederation of Africa Athletics, CAA, hopes will contribute in boosting athletics in the continent.

Africa did not excel at the London Olympics in track and field. The entire continent could only win seven gold medals. And it was decided that  youth competitions would help in taking the sport back to schools and communities where athletes can be discovered young. And one way of doing this was to begin a continental youth competition.

Interestingly, Warri bided to host the first edition on behalf of Nigeria and CAA gladly awarded the hosting rights to Nigeria and  Athletics Federation of Nigeria.

Amaju heads sports in Delta, the most outstanding state in sports development in Nigeria. He gets all the support from a sports loving governor in Emmanuel Uduaghan, himself a sports man. He plays Squash Racket and Tennis but has more passion for tennis, a sport he once played to top level in the old BendelState.

”Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is driving this because he feels it will also help the state develop sports in a way,” Amaju says of the funds that the governor has provided for the hosting of the championship called AYAC Warri 2013. Most of the athletes representing Nigeria in this championship are from Delta.

The facilities upgraded for the event will benefit Delta, the equipment Delta bought for it will serve the state and the goodwill AYAC 2013 will bring to Warri cannot be quantified especially after the state presented one of the best facilities for the FIFA Under 17 World Cup in 2009 but was denied hosting rights on security grounds.

Uduaghan made reference to this while inaugurating the LOC for AYAC Warri 2013 and charged them to organise a befitting championship that Africa would be proud of. Aminata Gueye, head of marketing in CAA admits some minor challenges but scores the organisation highly.

”We are doing our best to live up to the expectation of our amiable governor and the expectations of CAA and those of all the countries here in Warri,” Amaju says here. He has worked to raise money to support the grant from the state government. Zenith Bank, Delta State Oil and Gas Producing Company, DESOPADEC are among the sponsors that have complemented the government efforts.

Uduaghan’s vision is to use the instrumentality of sports to develop infrastructure, human capital and peaceful coexistence. He has been encouraging youths to take to sports and assures them that his government would always help them develop their potential and future career. He is not only in developing sports in the state but also the entire country and says that AYAC Warri 2013 could help the Athletics Federation of Nigeria led by Solomon Ogba groom talents to stardom. He says it’s same for all the African countries here in Warri.

”This a development programme conceived by CAA to help African athletes soar and I’m sure it could be the springboard for many of them in their transition to greater heights,” he says of the competition here in Warri. Amaju is not only interested in organising a good event. He, like Uduaghan, is looking at how the state would benefit from the show that has brought up to 28 African countries in the city of Warri.

”When we hosted a sports summit in Asaba October 30 last year, the high point of the whole thing centred on youth development. In a way, this is part of the implementation of the report of that summit. Our youths are in the team. Those not in the team will be influenced to engage in sports having watched interesting scenes here and very importantly are the equipment and facilities that we have acquired for the hosting this in Delta. As at Wednesday, 430 people had been accredited, many of them foreigners. There are technical personnel from Holland, Belgium who are from Timetronics and we have technical officials and the CAA family from other parts of  the continent that are here. And so far, its been hitch-free. This is, therefore, boosting the image of the city and perhaps tourism. The  state is better for it.”

For the first time, Estimated Distance Measurement, EDM, will be used in Nigeria courtesy Delta State Government. And the equipment is from Timetronics, the best in the world for now. The timing and distance measurement device will ensure accurate recording devoid of use of tape.

After AYAC 2013, the Awoturo Eleaya Cup will commence in DeltaState. It is a competition that is designed to fish out talents from the communities and local areas because it starts from the ward levels to Local Government, Senatorial Levels and State final in Sapele. Competitions will be held at these levels and there will be a data base for all the outstanding athletes that will be discovered. Coaches will be assigned to train them from time to time and a programme for development will commence. Delta is also doing the same for football. The Governor’s Cup is at the semifinal stage.

Outstanding ones have already been selected for holiday programmes that will eventually transform into football academies.

”It is part of our human capital development. We will help talents achieve their potentials and possibly take up careers in sports. One day oil will stop flowing and Nigeria will have to look for other sources of income. Our plan is not to be taken unawares in DeltaState, so we are thinking of Delta beyond oil. Sports could be one of the areas that could hugely employ people and that’s why we are taking it seriously,” Uduaghan repeatedly says in sports venues. He is practising what he is preaching. The sports programmes in
DeltaState are speaking for him.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NIGERIA: It feels good being an Olympic gold medalist – Chuwkwu

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Sydney 2000 Olympics newly crowned gold medalist, Clement Chukwu has described the awarding of the 4x400m relay gold to Nigeria by the International Olympics Committee as the best thing that has happened to Nigeria sports and he hoped that it will inspire Nigeria to better performances in future games.

Chukwu a member of the heroic Nigeria 4x400m quartet added that Nigerian officials should administer the sport with greater commitment if they desire to see Nigeria go back to the glory days.  “It feels good getting the gold at last.  There is no doubt that Nigeria is blessed with many talents.
“However, these talents have been mismanaged by few greedy officials. People with good intention  should be allowed to come in and move the sport forward.

“I sincerely believe we can get or even surpass previous levels reached in Track and Field with the right people in place,” Chukwu said.

Jude Money, Clement Chukwu, late Sunday Bada and Enefiok Odo-Obong put up a display that fetched Nigeria the silver in the race won by  the American quarter featuring 400m world record holder Michael Johnson. But when it emerged that late Antonio Pettigrew, took performance enhancing drugs, the IOC strip the USA of the gold and elevated Nigeria.

Members of the team were asked to return their medals, before they could get their gold. It is only Odo-Obong that has complied.

“I spoke to IOC represent-ative and I have been given the go ahead to mail the silver medal directly to IOC. I also have contacted Awazie and Gadzama. I have also spoken to Monye, his case is unique and I think he should be in position to decide what to do.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Don’t neglect our throwers, Toblow tells AFN

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Celebrated athletics grassroots coach, Tobias Igwe has called on the sports governing body in Nigeria to pay more attention to the field events rather than continue in the tradition of what he called ‘cushioning the sprints’.

The coach, fondly called Toblow by his admirers, urged the Athletics Federation of Nigeria to take a  holistic approach as it attempts to re-engineer athletics in 2013. He noted that at the last national festival in Lagos, the throwing events revealed a bunch of talents that could be trained to do well in the fields dominated by South Africa and Egypt on the continental level.

“There are abundant throwing talents here. What we only have to do is to create competitions for them.

For instance at Eko 2012, there is one boy I brought from Abia, Eze Kalu. We only trained for four months and he was able to pick up silver. He was denied the gold by Austin Nwoye, the boy that went with the Nigerian team to the world juniors in Barcelona, Spain last July.

This is why I am so sure that we can raise African and World Champions if we begin to look inwards.

In fact if we can create competitions for these boys and girls, coupled with the right coaching and equipment, I don’t see why we cannot compete favorably with other countries who are also making in-roads into our traditional stronghold, the sprints,” said coach Toblow.

He posited that he would have loved to renew his vigour in discovering grassroots talents, but he has been left desperately hopeless, after he was thrown out of job by Abia.

“For months I have not been paid my entitlements. I am being ravaged by poverty and I find it so amazing that a country I have served so well would let me degenerate like this,” Toblow lamented.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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2016 Olympics: Start preparations now

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Nigeria’s athletics chief coach to the London 2012 Olympics, Innocent Egbunike has called on the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN and the National Sports Commission, NSC to close ranks and begin to kick start an enduring programme that will put Nigeria’s name on the medals table at the   2016 Olympics in Rio.

Egbunike, who was speaking from his base in Atlanta, USA, stated that he has already put down a road map that will lead Nigeria to achieving glory, but he added that the country must have to start something now.

Flags of various nations, including Norway (C) and Nigeria (2nd-R), are displayed during the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 12, 2012 in London. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Olympic Games. AFP PHOTO

“I am still at the service of this great nation. I am only just praying and waiting for the authorities to give me the go-ahead for us to run these programmes. We have to start something now, otherwise four years will roll by and then, there we go again.

“There is the world champi-onships next year. We need to put everything together as soon as possible,” said the former African 400m champion and Nigeria’s record holder for 25 years running.

He added that Nigeria has talents and what is left to be done was for the relevant authorities to put down policy guidelines that will guarantee results in international competitions.

“I have spoken to the sports minister and the AFN president. They mean very well for the country’s athletics and so it is time for everyone of us to come together and make things work for the good of  Nigeria,”he said.

Egbunike was drafted into the Nigerian team four months to the Olympics. He led the Nigeria team to victory for the first time in 10 years at the African Championships in Porto Novo, Benin Republic in June, 2012.

But he had warned that the success wasn’t enough for the Nigerian team to do well at the London 2012 Olympics since Nigeria had started preparations late.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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