EZINWA: OKAGBARE, CHUKWUMERIJE ARE MEDAL HOPES
Posted: Aug 01, 2012
Former Nigeria Olympian, Osmond Ezinwa tell JOHNNY EDWARD that Nigeria needs quality preparation to excel at Olympic Games and other major competitions
TEAM NIGERIA PERFORMANCE SO FAR AT THE OLYMPICS
Well, for me, the Olympics have not started yet because athletics is yet to begin but to your question, I think the athletes we paraded in the sports we have competed in have done well because I don’t believe it is fair for us all to expect medals from them when they haven’t prepared well for the games. You don’t prepare for the Olympics with less than six months to the games proper. There must be a perfect plan for everybody who the Federation believes could bring home medals. Other countries have been preparing for the games for over three years and we think we can present athletes who are still struggling to get their training grants from their Federation to win medals when they have not adequately prepared.
I don’t really know much about boxing, table tennis and canoeing in which most of the athletes there have crashed out, but I believe they have done well by giving their best to the cause of their country.
In the table tennis, we used to dominate the continent but the combination of age and lack of exposure have hampered our chances of getting past the quarter-finals.
LESSONS LEARNT SO FAR
We have not learnt anything at all, but I hope we can still manage to do well at the end of the Olympics in London. We should not expect to win medals in major competitions when we did not prepare very well, but if we can set a good developmental programmes for our athletes, then they could stand a chance of winning medals at the next Olympics. We must prepare well if we want to win medals at the Olympics.
ON D’TIGERS PERFORMANCE AT THE OLYMPICS
They have surpassed expectations. Qualifying for the Olympics was a great achievement for those lads and going on to win their first game against African champions, Tunisia was delightful.
Even if they don’t win any medal, the fact that they are competing there is a big step for the country and I think they should take each game as a final in other to write their names in the folklore of the competition. I have been impressed so far with their performance. The coach has done well for the team
EXPECTATIONS FROM THE TRACK AND FIELD EVENTS
I don’t think we stand a chance of winning medals in the men’s event, but with Blessing Okagbare who is running well at the moment, I think she’s our only medal hope if she makes it to the finals of the events she will be featuring in. I pray she doesn’t sustain any injuriybecause all hope are on her to build on the success she had in her debut outing in Beijing. The male athletes, I don’t think they’ll make it to the finals because you need to run a sub-ten and most of our male athletes are not there yet in terms of timing.
ON CHIKA CHUKWUMERIJIE
He is a wonderful athlete and I also hope he does himself and the country proud. He alongside Okagbare prepared well for the Olympics and that’s why I am tipping them to get to the finals of the respective events where anything could happen. But as a Nigerian, I pray they win medals for themselves in London.
ON INNOCENT EGBUNIKE AS COACH TO THE ATHLETES
His appointment as coach of the athletics team is a good development for us, but I don’t think Innocent has signed a contract with the AFN despite been tagged as the coach of the athletics team to the London Olympics.
That’s one step they have taken in the right direction at the AFN. For me, it depends on the capacity they want me to offer my expertise to them. But in Nigeria, there are lots of back-stabbers and it’s going to be difficult to work with people like that. Of course, I would love to serve my fatherland but the terms and condition must be appropriate for me to serve.
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