Bibian Onwugbolu, Port Harcourt
Former Olympic long jump gold medallist, Chioma Ajunwa, has stated that Nigeria is not ready to actively participate in 2020 Olympic games
Ajunwa, who announced Nigeria’s name on the global podium in Olympic games in 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, USA, by winning gold in long jump during the competition, said that with the dearth of activities in the country with regards to selection of athletes and camping, Nigeria is not ready for next year’s summer Olympics.
In an interview with SportsDay, the Imo State born long jumper wonder what magic Nigeria would do in Tokyo when other countries that are serious with their participation are currently organising training and camp activities for the athletes.
“It is a pity that in this country, we like to fail all the time. I believe as an individual that we should learn from other people’s mistakes. But we refuse to learn. Olympic 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? We are talking about Olympics; what kind of Olympics are we talking about?
“I don’t think Nigeria is ready for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Other countries that really 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,” she said.
The 1990 Commonwealth bronze medallist advised the government and those saddled with the responsibility of preparing Nigeria athletes for to buckle up and stop wasting the collective resources if they knew they are not going there to make impactful participation.
“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 could not get a medal, but let it be that we prepared and did very well to marvel the world. Not we get there and everybody is eliminated at the prelim, yet we are spending billions of naira. Why not give the athletes the money to prepare themselves for the next coming one instead of going there to waste it?”
Ajunwa, a Divisional Police Office (DPO) with Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command, expressed worry that 23 years after Nigeria won two golds in Atlanta ’96 Olympics, that concerted efforts have not been put in place by concerned authorities to discover and nurture athletes that would surpass the achievement. She expressed anger over neglect of ex athletes and lack of welfare packages for them after their retirements.
“I am worried and at the same time concerned that we that worked for our country then, we put in everything and did our best for the country to bring the name of Nigeria to limelight, if we were taking care of, probably we have something doing, apart from the little job we are doing, I think the onus should have been ours to start picking the younger ones. But you can see that we represented this country and gave all we had and when we came back we just discovered that we are on our own.
“And they do not even see the reason to call you and give you a job but I thank God I have my job otherwise I would be roaming the streets like others, saying sir, sir to them and carrying their briefcase. That is what they want but to me, that is not how a country should be. They know that so many of us competed in international events around the world and we know all it takes to bring in the young ones. But they don’t believe that they have good athletes here, instead, they would go to America and England bring a coach that is not known anywhere and use them and make their money. We don’t have the interest of the country at heart and that is unfortunate.”