By Morenike Taire
If someone had dropped a bomb on the venue of the powerful send of ceremony last week by which the Nigerian contingent to the London 2012 Summer Olympic games was handed over to the president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (represented by the Minister of Youths and Sports Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi), Nigerian sports might have suffered a severe setback.
The public as well as the private sectors were well represented, with government officials exhorting and encouraging the athletes that were sent off side by side with heads of sponsoring corporate bodies, notably CEO Promasidor Mr. Keith Richards and the First Bank of Nigeria CEO . Also notably present were track Olympic veterans Mary Onyali and Falilat Ogunkoya.
Of the enthusiastic athletes present was 36 year old Vivian Chukwuemeka a Nigerian shot putter and two-time Olympian. The graduate of Azusa Pacific University won the gold medal in the shot put at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and has won three consecutive titles at the All-Africa Games from 1999 to 2007.
She was the African Champion in the event in 2002, 2006 and 2008. She also competes in discus throw and hammer throw, but not on world level.With her personal best throw before this year as 18.43 metres achieved in April 2003, she holds the African record.
She competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics and the World Championships in 2003 and 2005 without reaching the finals, but won a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.Vivian Chukwuemeka emerges from controversies of the past as one of the contingent to the London 2012. She speaks to Lipstick about her hopes for the immediate future.
What are your hopes for the Olympics?
I hope to qualify. If I did the same as I just did hopefully I will qualify after three or four weeks then go to plan B.
What’s the plan B?
Remembering all the stuff I’ve been taught by my coach (Ken Onuaguluchi), sleep well, or otherwise won’t be able to go beyond three throws. Right now, I’m number 15
Would you say you are prepared?
Like I told you I just threw far. I compete on the sixth of August, I have about a month exactly so hopefully I’ll be ready.
What are your hopes for team Nigeria generally?
I hope we do well. Everybody can do well and make the nation proud. We have set a goal for ourselves.
After the Olympics, what next?
Going back to the US. I’m going to take a break, relax and start training in October.
Do you have a day job?
I am a therapeutic behaviour specialist providing intervention for children with emotional/social disturbances. I teach them coping skills to avoid violence in order to reduce chaos.
Which one do you enjoy most, your job or your sports?
I love working with kids. This is my career but I love both of them equally. I meet a lot of people at my job, I need people who look at me as someone who wants to help them but in tracks and field I am always meeting people too. I mean, everybody wants to talk to you…
How are you feeling right now?
In the beginning I was doing 17/20. I was number 40 or 50 and I knew it would take me a while. Feeling really relieved right now. Everything is connecting. I’m feeling really good.
June/July flooding floors Lagos
When the Governor of Lagos, Babatunde R. Fashola, refers to the State as the centre for excellence as he did last week at the unveiling ceremony of the National Sports Festival logo, LASGIDI, he says it like he means it. It bears emphasis, the fact that Lagos of late has become a totally different place than it had been. It is a living place; one that suggests the presence of not just any government, but one that cares about the people it presides over.
There was therefore no warm blooded Lagosian anywhere who has had any doubt that the present administration is dead serious when it pledges- as it has done often in the past- to get rid of the worsening flood menace that has proved to be the bane of life in the city in more recent years.
Massive resources have been deployed, in the clear view of all, towards achieving this aim, with canals and whole roads being constructed and reconstructed in order to allow for proper drainage. But with Lagosians taxed to within an inch of their lives and getting frustrated about this major cramp to their lifestyle, it was actually a relief to hear government has run out of promises concerning this disconcerting phenomenon.
What it means, at least, is that when people expect the major flooding, the scale of which we saw last year, the can actually plan for it.
Global warming is a global reality and we might begin by looking to the long term and actually put our mind to reducing our vast rate of carbon emission. Lagos has the most number of people per square meter in Africa perhaps the world- individually and daily burning fossil fuels for domestic electricity. This is the part that can change.