Nigeria Ends London Olympics Without A Medal After Spending N1.9bn

By Olufemi Atoyebi/Punch

Nigeria at London Olympics The London 2012 Olympic Games ended on Sunday with Team Nigeria returning home with no medal, raising questions over the N1.9bn budgeted for the Nigeria’s participation at the Games.

It was an unusual record compared to the nation’s achievements at the Games in the past two decades. It was one that reminded Nigerians of the woeful performance recorded when Nigerian did not win any medal at Seoul ’88.

In London, Nigeria’s hopes for medals were shouldered by the athletics team, where Blessing Okagbare was regarded as a match for Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and Carmelita Jeter of the US in the women’s 100m. But Okagbare finished the final in the 8th position, blaming her poor performance on injury despite competing till the end.

In the long jump, she had an equally bad outing, failing to qualify for the final after finishing in the 17th position. In the women’s 4x100m relay race, Christy Udoh, Gloria Asumnu, Oludamola Osayomi and Okagbare did put up a fight but the 42.64 time recorded by them was only good as their season’s best with Nigeria ending in the 4th position.

Ajoke Odumosu also raised the nation’s hopes when she reached the 400m hurdles but she came last to end all medal expectations from the race.

The basketball team reached the Olympics for the first time with much expectation, especially after beating Greece and Lithuania, respectively ranked 4th and 5th in the world, during the qualifiers.

They even gladdened the nation’s heart with a win over African champions, Tunisia, in their first match at the Olympics, but defeats by to Lithuania, Argentina, US and France ended first basketball participation at the Games with one win.

There was disappointment after the table tennis team was ousted a day after the opening ceremony but there were last minute hopes that later produced no medals for Nigeria.

Team Nigeria’s Captain Chika Chukwumerije, who won a bronze at the last Olympic Games in Beijing, China was seen as a medal prospect in taekwondo because of the preparation he had before the Games. He did not begin his contest until a day before the closing ceremony, but in his only fight, he lost to Cuban opponent, Robelis Despaigne, in the men’s+80kg class.

A few hours after his defeat on Saturday, another hope was dashed when the women’s 4x400m relay team was disqualified in the final. It was however not the final straw as hopes of any type of medal rested on Sinivie Boltic, a male wrestler in the freestyle 96kgcategory. He drew bye into the quarterfinals where he met Republic of Moldova’s Ceban Nicolai on Sunday. But like other athletes that represented Nigeria, Boltic did not get to the medal zone, ending all hopes for Nigeria.

A few weeks before the Games commenced, there was controversy over the release of funds as sports federations bosses had to look for money to prepare athletes for the competition. Chukwumerije was the only athlete who had first class preparation for the Games. He was treated for an injury in London and sent to Korea to prepare for his taekwondo event.

Reacting to the nation’s failure in London, a member of the Association of Veteran Sports Administrators Forum, Martins Osaile, said Nigerians should hold the Federal Government responsible for the poor outing.

Osaile said, “Before 1999 when we returned to democratic rule, our sport was healthy, today it is almost dead. The present government in the hands of our people is not ready to develop sport in Nigeria. They play game with the future of our athletes. They have forgotten that there is political power in achieving excellence in global events.

“When the present head of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Sanni Ndanusa, was the president of tennis federation, I challenged him to list his achievements in the sport. To the surprise of Nigerians, he became the sports minister and now NOC president. That shows how the Nigerian government has relegated sport in Nigeria.”

Osaile advised the athletes to challenge their leaders and free themselves from their hold.

“Usain Bolt made over $30m from endorsement last year and there are many others that were not documented for public consumption. How many Nigerian athletes made anything from endorsement in the past one year? The US announced last week that camp for the 2016 Olympics would open in September, here in Nigeria, we will not start until three months to the Games,” Osaile said.

Former boxer and an Olympian, Jeremiah Okorodudu, said the boxers who represented Nigeria in London were not ready for the contest.

He said, “We had three boxers but they were not good enough to win medals. They were picked from the National Sports Festival which was wrong. If we are going to use the festival as Olympic qualifier, it should be made open. You cannot take rookies to a big event like the Olympics.”

Okorodudu also said Nigeria was heading for a major failure when training tours are not properly handled before the Games.

“In the past when Nigeria did well at the Olympics, training tours were not limited to putting athletes in a hotel and training at a remote facility. Tours are meant to expose the athletes and put them in proper shape for the big events,” he said.

  1. 'Jianya Reply

    It is so shameful that a nation of over 150 million people could not earn a single medal at the Olympics. The London Olympics is now history. The egg cannot be unscrambled. Rio 2016 is a few years away at is where the nation should now put her focus in everything sports to find a way to redeem herself for Africa’s sake. For obvious reasons, there are Bolts and Blakes in Nigeria.
    If Nigeria’s failure at the just concluded Olympics tells us anything it is that all is not well, obviously, with the country. The failure is an external manifestation of an internal rot (apology to Prof. Wole Soyinka) at the top. It is time for the National Sports Commission to wake up as it were to smell the coffee. How could a nation put someone who has no sports credentials at the head of its NOC? Doesn’t that tell us a lot about why she fails at the international level? Did someone say that Nigeria fielded a tennis team at the London Olympics? What a joke! Can anyone name one descent tennis court (grass or gavel) in Nigeria? A patriotic Nigeria abroad, in the USA probably, has created a website he calls Baseline Tennis Nigeria. This individual, I learnt, has not been able to get any information from the NTA on the state of tennis in the country. Not even the sports writers at reputable newspapers like the Punch and the Guardian could be of any help. Tennis greats like Sadiq Abdullahi, Nduka Odizor and Tony Mmoh who have the skill to upgrade Nigeria Tennis are sidelined in such matters. That can give you the reader an idea of how bad things are with that sport in Nigeria. The same applies to other sports.
    Thinking about lessons learned from country’s abysmal failure at the London Olympics, it is unwise to start the preparation for an international event like the Olympics only a few months before it begins, as someone has alleged. If this is a fact, the nation did set her contingent up for failure at the games. The IOC should investigate this and if substantiated reprimand the NOC for ill preparing the nation’s athletes. There are many avenues from which Nigeria could fish out athletes for Olympics training camp: NUGA games, NIPOST games, the Nigeria Police Games (National Olympic heroine Chioma Ajunwa proved that the force can produce star athletes), National Sports festivals, State Sports Festivals, etc. Scouts should be sent around the country to look for potential medalists to train. That lanky 14 year old playing football on the dirt field of Ebute Metta may be a potential gold medalist in 400m in Rio!
    The athletes in training should be well paid, take good care of and adequately resourced in terms of facilities.
    On a positive note the ladies that competed for Nigeria in track and field put up a good fight only that they were out-matched probably because of inadequate training. That said, there is no reason on this good old planet why Nigeria should be absent from the medal table if countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas and Gabon stood on the podium. President Jonathan, the National Assembly (with all her nowhere-else-in-the-world salaries and grafts), the NSF, and the NOC owe the entire citizenry an explanation and an apology for the woeful outing in London. They should also make an action-backed promise for a better result in Rio 2016. Otherwise Nigeria should be a No Show in Rio. Period.

  2. sam Reply

    THE FIRST ONE I READ WAS 2.3B, DON’T YOU GUYS KEEP RECORD. THE MAIN REASON FOR THE FAILURE IS BECAUSE NIGERIA IS NEVER READY FOR ANYTHING UNTIL IT’S TOO CLOSE OR ALREADY HAPPENING.

  3. 'Jianya Reply

    It is so shameful that a nation of over 150 million people could not earn a single medal at the 2012 Olympics. The London Olympics is now history. The egg cannot be unscrambled. Rio 2016 is a few years away and that is where the nation’s should now put her focus in everything sports.
    If Nigeria’s failure at the just concluded Olympics tells us anything it is that all is not well, obviously, with the country in general. The failure is an external manifestation of an internal rot (apology to Prof. Wole Soyinka) at the top. It is time to wake up as it were and smell the coffee. How could a nation put someone who has no sports credentials at the head of its NOC? Doesn’t that tell us a lot about why she fails at the international level? Did someone say that Nigeria fielded a tennis team at the London Olympics? What a joke! Can anyone name one descent tennis court (grass or gavel) in Nigeria? A patriotic Nigeria abroad, in the USA probably, has created a website he calls Baseline Tennis Nigeria. This individual, I learnt, has not been able to get any information from the NTA on the state of tennis in the country. That can give you the reader an idea of how bad things are with that sport in Nigeria.
    Thinking about lessons learned from country’s abysmal failure at the London Olympics, it is unwise to start the preparation for an international event like the Olympics only a few months before it begins, as someone has alleged. If this is a fact, the nation was setting her contingent up for a failure. The IOC should investigate this and if substantiated reprimand the NOC for ill preparing the nation’s athletes to the Olympics. There are many avenues from which Nigeria could fish out athletes for Olympics training camp: NUGA games, NIPOST games (National Olympic heroine Chioma Ajunwa was in the police), NSP festivals, State Sports Festivals, etc. Scouts should be sent around the country to look for potential medalists to send to camp trials.
    The athletes in training should be paid well in order to motivate them.
    On a positive note the ladies that competed for Nigeria in track and field put up a good fight only that they were over-matched probably because of inadequate training. That said, there is no reason on this planet why Nigeria should be absent from the medal able if countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas and Gabon stood on the podium. President Jonathan, the National Assembly (with all her nowhere-else-in-the-world salaries and grafts), the NSF, and the NOC owe the entire citizenry an explanation and an apology for the woeful outing in London. They should also make an action-backed promise for a better outing in Rio 2016. Otherwise Nigeria should be a No Show in Rio.

  4. amasikele Reply

    My candid opinion is that, nigeria atletes are not prepared for sacrifice even if everything are made possible to them

  5. Shehu garba gwarzo. Reply

    if there’s my share out of this 1.96 bn. ALLAH YA ISA.

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