22 August 2016
The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil ended on Sunday after 16 days of intense competition between athletes from 205 countries which included Nigeria.
Nigeria finished 78th at the Games with one medal – a bronze in men’s football, a day before the end of the Games.
This is supposed to be deemed a better showing than Nigeria’s record at the 2012 London Olympics where she returned medal-less. Unfortunately, it can’t been seen as such, given the unpleasant drama preceding the Games.
While it has been established that under-funding and late preparations had been the bane of Nigeria in international sports competitions, the level reached prior to the Rio Olympics was unprecedented.
To the dismay of all, Nigeria had difficulties getting its men’s football team to Brazil. The team had to rely on external help to get to Brazil barely five hours before their first match which they won in an even more dramatic fashion against Japan.
This news went viral and elicited sympathy from a Japanese billionaire who promised to give the team some money if they finished with a medal. And he did on Sunday after the team won bronze when they defeated Honduras 3 – 2.
While that was the high-point of the international disgrace to which Nigeria was treated, there were others.
It was a shameful parade for Nigeria’s contingent at the opening ceremony in Rio when Nigeria’s athletes had to parade in tracksuits while their counterparts from other countries did theirs in proper clothes that were synonymous with their country. U.S.A for instance wore clothes made by one of America’s most popular designers.
A week into the Games, the sports handlers in Nigeria were still not done with dragging the men’s football team into embarrassment for whatever reason(s). They refused to pay for the team’s hotel bill and the team captain had to come to the rescue.
Quite interestingly, the handlers kept the worse for the last – deliberate or not, they did a good job at it – when they ensured the training kit for the Nigerian team landed in Rio barely three days to the end of the Games.
Yes, Nigerian athletes didn’t have the best of outing at the Games, they should be commended for even deciding to represent a country that not only refused to prepare them for the Games, but ensured they kitted themselves for their events.