The president of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, Tonobok Okowa, on Tuesday departed Nigeria for Tokyo, the venue of the re-scheduled Olympic Games ahead of the start of track and field events on Friday, July 30.
Speaking before his departure, Okowa appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the athletes and the country’s contingents as a whole despite the not-so-inspiring performance so far in Tokyo.
It would be recalled that all Nigerians in the table tennis events have been eliminated, just as is the case in gymnastics, rowing, taekwondo and badminton.
The men’s and women’s basketball teams – D’Tigers and D’Tigress – also suffered defeats against Australia and the USA, respectively, in their opening games.
Okowa is, however, optimistic of better outings as the competition progresses even as he urged Nigerians to keep supporting and praying for Team Nigeria.
“We have all been praying, we have worked so hard to prepare the athletes and I know that they are in good spirit. We don’t know what is going to happen; all we need to do now is to pray and let the athletes go ahead and compete with others. We are praying for medals, we have to win medals,” he said.
“For a long time, in the past few Olympics, we have not gotten any medals and we are praying that this time we will get them.
“We have some top athletes like Ese Brume, Tobi Amusan, Blessing Okagbare, Divine Oduduru and others. The assurance is that they have prepared very well. As we speak some of them are there with their personal coaches working alongside the local ones. They have prepared well and I am praying they will get there.
“I am praying that all these names mentioned – Blessing Okagbare, Ese Brume and others – will win medals because I know that they are top ranking athletes.”