The Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, on Thursday did what many other ministers have failed to do in the past. He officially gave a verdict of disappointment at the performance of Team Nigeria at the London 2012 Olympics which rounds off on Sunday.
The Minister who made a review of the country’s performance at the Nigeria House in Stratford, London, said that poor preparations marred the country’s chances at the games.
He said, “Our inability to win any medal so far is disappointing for my team and myself and for all Nigerians. But we must have the courage to see it as it is. This is a clear testimony to how far our sports have fallen behind.”
In allusion to Great Britain and China success at the Games, Abdullahi said everyone in sports administration must face the reality and work the way forward from such outing."
“In Atlanta ‘96, Great Britain won one medal but in Beijing they finished fourth. They accepted their poor situation and reworked their system including financing. In London today they are standing boldly at the third position. This is one opportunity we cannot allow to pass us by."
“We have been hoping too much on luck, but for once, God is telling us he’s not a magician; we must work hard to succeed.”
He said the immediate challenge is how to rebuild. He named the National Sports Festival holding in Lagos this November as one to take the first major step culminating with better outing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 from where the real projection can be taken for Rio 2016.
He said that five specific sports will be listed and given priority for the future Olympic participation of Nigeria. Their federations will also be fully reorganised to meet the new challenges of winning medals at the Olympics.
He praised Team Nigeria athletes for putting up a brave showing at the Olympics and pleaded for understanding and encouragement of Nigerians.