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. T
“he 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.