THE 2012 Olympic Games ends tomorrow with Team Nigeria in danger of returning home literally empty-handed.
The team is yet to win a single medal in an event that has yielded many medals for Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and Botswana, among other African countries.
Even the qualification of the country’s 4×400 women relay team for the final of the event was not enough to lift the spirits at the Team Nigeria camp. That’s because of the belief that the country’s quartet lacks the legs to win any medal in a race that involves Jamaica, USA, Great Britain and Russia,
At the Olympic stadium yesterday, the few Nigerians who, in spite of the disappointment, turned up to watch the evening events believed that only a miracle would give the country a consolatory medal—- the indices were that bad.
Nigeria’s remaining big hope here, Chika Chukwumerije, is said to be nursing an injury, although many believe that the Beijing 2008 bronze winner can muster the power to redeem the country’s image as he did four years ago.
Some are however of the opinion that the current disappointment could be a blessing in disguise if the government learns from the bitter lessons of the 2012 Games.
On Thursday at the Nigeria Village, Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, summed up the situation in the camp when he said the performance of Team Nigeria was a reflection of the grim reality of the state of the country’s sports.
The minister acknowledged that the country had not done enough to be in a position to challenge such countries as Jamaica, United States, Great Britain, China, Russia and South Africa, among others.
According to Team Nigeria Media Officer, Tony Ubani, “there is no need bemoaning Nigeria’s fate or passing the buck now when everybody knows that the country has not funded sports as it should.
“This is also the opportunity for the government to compel the multinational companies in Nigeria to put their money into sports development as they do in other countries because that is the only way we can raise enough money to fund sports as we should.’’
It is not all gloom though, as some of the athletes are relishing their involvement in the Olympics.
Twenty-One-year-old 400 metres runner, Regina George, who is making her debut in the games here, told The Guardian that running alongside Christine Ohuruogu and other top stars has made her presence here worthwhile, adding that she has learnt a lot that would put her in good stead to challenge for honours in subsequent championships.