After the disappointment of not participating at the London 2012 Olympics despite earning qualification, Nigeria Aquatics Federation president, Babatunde Fatai-Williams declared that Nigeria swimmers will return to the Olympics and make an impact in Rio 2016.
Two Nigerian swimmers qualified for the London 2012 Olympics, but they were prevented from participating by the National Sports Commission on the ground that they will not be able to fetch medals for the country. This was something that infuriated the swimming community, including Nigeria’s Olatokunbo Thomas who is a member of the executive board of the world swimming governing body, FINA.
“Our swimmers gained qualification through the universality slots. This meant that they were not given wild card entry, they earned their qualification by merit having participated in qualification trials.
“We were really taken aback when the two swimmers were left behind. Even we had to answer query from FINA as to why we did not make use of our qualification ticket, when other countries could have benefited,” said Fatai-Williams
However, he submitted that the NAF has moved ahead from that let down, arguing that Nigeria has talents that can hold their heads high at international events.
“The only thing we need to do is to invest in the sport. It takes eight to ten years of continuous training to groom a young talented swimmer to Olympics standard.
“These talents have to train twice a day and six days in a week excluding competitions. Micheal Phelps didn’t come from nowhere, he was a product of continuous training and development. We can do the same too here in Nigeria. There has to be facilities, coaches need to be trained and there are other related aspects like sports medicine that has to be put in place. We cannot achieve this without funding,” stated Fatai-Williams.