By Ebele Orakpo
“Kai! I weep for my beloved nation. Is it not too shameful that the giant of Africa, with a population of over 150 million people, could not win a single medal at the just-concluded Olympic Games in London?” asked Emma this Sunday morning as the bus inched its way through traffic along Airport Road, Lagos.
Replied Uche tongue-in-cheek: “Ehn, did you ever plan to win any medal?”
“What do you mean? So we just went there to watch others win medals?” asked Ade. “As usual!” replied Mercy. “Uche you are absolutely right. He who fails to plan, plans to fail. More serious nations began planning for this year’s Olympics the day the Beijing Games ended but Nigeria waited until few weeks to the Games in London,” stated Amaka.
“Did you say few weeks? Remember some money was released to the athletes during the Games for training,” said Nike.
Training for the Olympics
“Aren’t we a bunch of jokers? Competing with nations like China? I mean, those guys believe in catching them young. They will do whatever it takes to win,” noted Stephen.
Replied Emma, “Abeg no just go there. Theirs borders on torture. Look at what they make those tiny tots go through all in the name of training for the Olympics. Haba! I hear some are hung upside down, legs in the air.”
“They want medals and they are paying the price,” stated Nike. “Look at Britain, after the Beijing Olympics, they went back to the drawing board. This time, they got 29 gold medals, a remarkable improvement from the 19 they got in 2008. And how did they do it? They increased the time allotted to sports in both elementary and secondary schools from one to two hours,” said Mercy.
She continued, “Years ago, our primary and secondary schools had sports fields and allotted at least 30 minutes daily for sports . Today, we have schools with no single space for recreation. Classrooms are jam-packed so that children cannot even find space to play.
A building is erected in every available space to get more pupils in and of course, more money. So what do you expect? By the time the child gets to the university where there is little space for sports, he is too old to start learning those sports. As the Igbos will say, one does not learn to be left-handed at old age. So how on earth do we hope to win medals?”
“But, there are certain inborn abilities that our people have which would have seen us through,” said Chinwe. “Like athletics which is the Black man’s forte.” Replied Dennis, “Yes oo. Some Oyinbo countries went as far as giving our people citizenship to compete for them. The British team had some Nigerians.”
“What about swimming, archery, rowing, etc? Fulani herdsmen are here killing us with bows and arrows instead of winning medals for us. The Ijaw who are reputed to practically live in water and the Okrikas who are very good in rowing, could not help us. Are the gods to be blamed?” asked Patrick.
Retorted Commy, “Which gods? That’s how we blame the Devil for every single evil under the sun, even the ones that happen as a result of our laziness and ignorance.”
“May be we should introduce corruption. I’m sure we will excel,” joked Nike.
Said Pat: “We will not. Oyibo man go still beat us. Remember Bernard Madoff?”
“On a more serious note, the underlying problem is corruption. We never go to events with our best. Only those who have godfathers or who can pay are usually selected. So if you are in one remote village and dirt-poor, no official is ready to go all out to fish you out and help you hone your skills to represent the country.
Grassroots sports development is not our priority. Other nations are grooming very young kids now for the next Games but trust me, Naija will still be depending on those athletes that featured in London to still feature in Rio,” stated Mercy.