By Bibian Onwugbolu, Port Harcourt
Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games women’s long jump gold medalist, Chioma Ajunwa-Opara has charged Nigeria’s sports authorities to commence preparations for next year’s edition of the global multi-sports gathering.
The ex-international athlete, who is now a Divisional Police Office (DPO) with Lagos State Command, expressed worry that nothing concrete is in place for the Team Nigeria contingent to the Games next year.
Ajunwa also lamented that, 23 years after she won one of two gold medals for Nigeria in Atlanta ’96 Olympics, the authorities have failed to discover and nurture athletes that would surpass her achievement.
She also expressed anger over neglect of former athletes, lack of quality welfare packages for them after their retirements and the absence of a policy that would see Nigeria looking good to excel at any Olympiad.
The 1990 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist advised the ministry of sports, Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), various sports bodies and everyone saddled with the responsibility of preparing athletes for the Games to get down to business to ensure Team Nigeria gets a meaningful participation in Tokyo.
Ajunwa moaned: “Olympics 2020 is barely a year from now and this is where we are.
“I don’t know the kind of athletes we are going to take to Tokyo 2020 that up till now we are not hearing anything.
“People have not started going out for exposure and training. Even if you cannot take them out, why not camp them here in the country?
“Other countries that want to perform in the Olympics are currently training and doing their competitions, taking them out to compete.
“But here we start our training within 2 to 3 months, it is not good that way.
“I don’t think we are going to Tokyo to compete and win but I believe if we really want to do that, we should know what to do.
“I advise that we need to start in time so that we will be able to go there, compete with others and make an impact.
“Even if we cannot get a medal, but let it be that we prepared well and tried our best to marvel the world.”