Team Nigeria captain at the London 2012 Olympics, Chika Chukwumerije, has blamed ill luck for his inability to win a medal in taekwondo at the Games, even as he insists he had the best preparation ahead of the event.
Nigeria, with a total of 53 athletes featuring in eight sports, had their worst outing in over two decades at the Olympics, equalling their performances at the 1980 and 1988 Games.
Chukwumerije, a Beijing 2008 bronze medallist, was one of the bright prospects in London before falling to his Cuban opponent, Robelis Despaigne. But he refused to shy away from the public, as the rest of the team, by explaining what was responsible for his failure.
“I’m deeply hurt by the results, and so are a 160 million Nigerians. There are no excuses to be given, no blames to be shared, and no escape from the trauma of dashed hopes,” the 28-year-old said told the press in Lagos on Tuesday.
“I am disheartened that my results fell short of the high expectations Nigerians rightly had of me and perhaps, a number of my teammates. I make no excuses for the results.
“I trained long and hard for London 2012 Games using a programme initiated in 2005. The same program saw me conquer Africa and win a gold medal at the 2007 All-Africa Games. The programme saw me clinch an Olympic bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. That same programme helped me win a silver medal in the 2011 All-Africa Games, and qualified me for the London 2012 Olympics.
“I had the Olympics on my mind for four years, and I was ready for it. I prepared well but I ran into hard luck.”
Chukwumerije and his fellow taekwondoist, Isah Mohammed, were tutored by Korean coach Keum-si Hwan who was provided by the Korean Embassy in Nigeria. Despite the poor outing in London, Chukwumerije said the Korean remains the best coach to handle the athletes.
“I had the best training under the Korean coach. The preparation was on point. I would use him again if I had the chance but the decision to retain him will be with the National Sports Commission,” Chukwumerije said.
“I was better at the London Games than I was in Beijing; the coach should be given the credit for that.”
Chukwumerije added that he was yet to decide if he would be prepared to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics, saying he would put a number of issues in perspective before deciding on his readiness.
He said, “I’m still recovering from the London Games. I have to decide if I can still shoulder the same level of commitment I had at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. In a few months I should decide on that.”