By Tony Nezianya, London
The ongoing London Olympic Games have become a test of fitness for participants, including spectators, volunteers, the organisers and journalists, who have to walk long distances daily.
Trekking and jogging long distances to catch trains, buses and meeting Games schedules, are the order of the day as the loss of a minute could ruin one’s plan.
After two days of complaints, newcomers joined the fray.
“I am physically much fitter than when I arrived in London,” said Onochie Anibeze, Group Sports Editor of Vanguard Newspapers.
The exceptions are some VIPs like Habu Ahmed Gumel,
Nigeria’s member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who are chauffeur-driven to virtually the doorsteps
of either their hotels or competition venues.
“I also drop the cars occasionally so as to trek in order keep fit,” Gumel told NAN.
“Trekking has been helpful in improving the cardiovascular system,” Austin Edeze, President of Nigeria Wrestling
Federation (NWF), said.
He said that he had to endure the trekking as it had become his daily physical exercise.
“Since arriving here, there has not been any need to engage in jogging because I virtually cover more than 10 kilometres daily,” Pius Ayinor, Group Sports Editor of the Punch Newspapers said.
Jonathan Nnaji, the first Vice-President of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), arrived in London on Aug. 7, just a day to the start of the Taekwondo event of the ongoing Games.
He has been held up in Lagos, trying to receive supplies of NOC souvenirs – kits and Olympic pins – from the
contractor who delayed in supplying the items.
It is ironic, however, that he arrived after some of the “Team Nigeria” athletes had crashed out the Games.
“This is sad. The NOC may have to take the items back to Nigeria as these are the items that the athletes and officials needed to exchange while at competition venues,” a ministry of sports official said.
However, some of items, including kits, were seen with some favoured officials and journalists only on Wednesday at the Olympic Park.
For some Nigerians who are not used to map reading, being in London for the ongoing Games has made it inevitable for them to learn. The maps are the first item that visitors are given free of charge on entering Britain.
Those who are Information Technology (IT) savvy are easily encouraged to use the GPS, if the applications were in their telephones.
They are encouraged to download such navigational applications, ei ther in Blackberry phones or the I-Phones or indeed phones that could take such applications, to aid their movement.
These are daily companions that assist people to destinations in London and virtually to all parts of the
With Team Nigeria’s unimpressive performance at the Games, members of the Nigeria Football and other Supporters Club, led by Rafiu Ladipo, that had been visible in London spotting their uniforms, have fizzled out.
They were at the London Games to lend support to the Nigerian contingent to the Games, whose gradual ouster was led by the table tennis players, closely followed by canoeing (Slalom), then boxing, basketball and weightlifting.
However, Takwondo, wrestling and athletics are still on.
Spokesman of the NOC and Team Nigeria, Tony Ubani, is facing a barrage of attacks from some members of the Executive Committee of NOC for using words like “pummeling ferocious, soccer punch” in describing the manner in which the Nigerian lady boxer, Edith Ogoke, was defeated at the quarterfinal of the boxing event.
An official of NOC, Pat Ukah, queried why Ubani had to use such a language, asking: “Who is he working for?”
But Ubani told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that “as far as I am concerned, I did my job as a professional. I could not have lied”.
The Nigerian had lost the fight 18-8 to Russian Nadezda Torlopova after Ogoke took mandatory counts. In apost-match interview, Ogoke admitted that the Russian deserved the win.
“I feel good. I am ok. It is one of those things. She is one of the best in the world. The decision was right but the
scoring was a bit generous, I thought.
“I am very sad to have, lost but the crowd (support) gave me courage,” she said.
On boxing for consecutive days, the Games organisers quoted her as saying: “I lacked a bit of energy and there was no time at all to recover”.
Some journalists covering the Games have warned that Ubani should not be blamed for the poor run of events.
“What was contained in the report was a true reflection of what transpired at the boxing venue,” said Mitchell Obi of Masters Sports International.
Ben Memuletiwon, Managing Editor of Sports Day Newspapers, corroborated Obi’s statement.
“When we have not performed well, officials are looking for those to blame for their woes,” Memuletiwon added.
•Nezianya writes for the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).