I want to congratulate all the athletes that participated at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics; all of you made Nigeria proud because you competed against the best in Africa before you were able to qualify for the Olympics.
There is an adage that says: “What a man can do, a woman can do better”. Blessing Oborududu and Ese Brume have shown that women are the engine room of sports in Nigeria winning silver and bronze medals respectively.
Blessing Oborududu (68kg) became the first Nigerian to win a medal (silver) in the wrestling event since we began participating in the Olympics while Ese Brume bagged a bronze medal in the women’s Long Jump event.
The question on the lips of every Nigerian is what next after the Tokyo Olympics. The 2022 Commonwealth Games should not be our major priority because we have always done well whether we train hard or not. In fact, Nigeria always perform excellently well at most of the Commonwealth Games.
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The first thing that should be on the mind of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYS) led by Chief Sunday Dare and the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) is how to retain the large chunk of athletes who attended the Tokyo Olympics (whether they won medals or not). The performance of all the athletes were amazing as some of them like Grace Nwokocha, Enoch Adegoke, Godwin Olofua, Adijat Idris, Anuoluwapo Opeyori etc made history in Tokyo.
If truly Nigeria wants to win medals at the Paris 2024 Olympics (in three years), the country should be ready to send all the athletes for training tours starting from next year. For the Athletics team, the ministry and Athletics Federation of Nigeria should partner on how to send the athletes to colleagues where they can have access to the best sporting facilities and equipment, have sound education and keep themselves fit.
For the badminton team, the best athletes should be enrolled at the best schools in Asia (Korea, China, Chinese Taipei), where they can play against the best players, improve on their skills and techniques as well as furthering their education.
For the wrestling team, the Chairman Caretaker Committee of Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Hon Daniel Igali knows what to do and how to get the athletes in shape for major championships. He should be given the necessary support and help in order to give the country more medals in Paris.
In the Taekwondo camp, Olympic Bronze medallist, Chika Chukwumerije has sent a signal to the world with Elizabeth Anyanacho. He was able to nurture the young girl to become an Olympian within five years; there are many raw diamonds in the Taekwondo family and equal support should be give to him in order to attend more African Championships with other athletes. Some athletes can be selected and taken outside the country for exposure in 24 months.
In Paris 2024 Olympics, I will be excited to see the return of sports like Boxing, Football, Judo and Weightlifting because we have individuals who can shock the world if given priorities.
I am optimistic that sports like Cricket, Handball, Volleyball and Karate can make it to the Olympics if they get maximum support from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Chief Sunday Dare, in one of the offices you occupy, there is a program called Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF). It will not be out of place if elite athletes of the various National Federations under the ministry of sports benefit from the funds. It will further boost the morale of the athletes who have no source of income in their various states sports council/commission.
Whether we like it or not, it is on record that under Sunday Dare as minister of sports, the country won Silver and Bronze medal at the Olympics.
Finally, beware of sycophants. They have been there since immemorial and will continue to be there after you have left.
Not every praise singer is your friend and not every critic is your enemy.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.