The Minister of Sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission, Bolaji Abdullahi, has revealed that President Goodluck Jonathan is targeting five gold medals from Rio 2016 Olympics despite the abysmal failure of Team Nigeria at London 2012 Olympics.
Nigeria finished the London Games as one the worst teams, failing to win any medal but Abdullahi said on Channels Television on Wednesday that Jonathan wants an early preparation for the next Games and expects no fewer than five golds.
“Mr. President believes if we start to work now we can win five gold medals in Rio in 2016. If we start to work towards that target, we may or may not meet it, but we must begin now to work towards it and believe it is possible,” Abdullahi said.
“It seems we’re under pressure now; everybody is angry and outraged. But we must resist the temptation for reflex action. We can’t just start doing things because we want people to see that we’re responding to stimuli. That’ll be wrong and won’t be sustainable.
“What we need to do is to be very deliberate and conscious about what we need to do. There’s not going to be an easy solution, there’s not going to be a quick fix. What we’re talking about (emerged) from many years of decay and collapse. Whatever we do now, we must begin to show result in two years time. That is why it is very good for us that the Commonwealth Games will be coming up in 2014 and we can use that to re-launch for the 2016 Games.
“We shouldn’t forget that football is very critical in Nigeria. We have the Nations Cup coming up in January in South Africa in 2013 and the World Cup in 2014. All these will provide the opportunity for us to begin to rebuild. If we begin today to identify children and talent that can compete well with the right age and exposure, I think we can get them ready for Brazil .
“In Olympic term four years are nothing; we’re actually thinking of an eight-year plan. Some of the countries that did very well in London have already started preparing. We have to start now. We’re considering giving priority to sports that will give us the opportunity to excel and apportion our resources along those lines in short and medium term measures.
“We have to go back to the system that allows us to discover talents; the system that allows us to nurture them and allows us to give them the right exposure.”
Abdullahi said he planned to reconnect the National Sports Commission to the state governments and make the various sports federation more effective in terms of funding sports and discovering talents at the grass roots.