NIGERIAN Reaction to CWG Flop

Melbourne 2006 Flop: What Stakeholders Say

While Nigerian athletes to the just concluded 18th Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia struggled to win medals, athlethes from other countries at par with Nigeria in previous editions, won medals effortlessly. Jamaica won the two sprints gold, Australia virtually won all available medals. Even three of the gold medals won by Nigeria came from Special Sports.

Senior Correspondent, Peter Edema, went to town to seek the opinions of Nigerians concerning Nigeria’s outing at the Games, particularly against the background of some unaccredited athletes making it to Melbourne

It’s Nigeria’s Worst Outing At The Games


This is Nigeria’s worst outing in Commonwealth Games since I was born. In a sane country, the Sports Minister, Seidu Samaila Sambawa, should have resigned after the Games. In 1954, we won a gold in Long Jump through Late Emmanuel Ifeajuna, then a student of the University of Ibadan, we were very good in Long Jump, Triple Jump, and High Jump among others up to the time of Yusuf Ali. In boxing also, we were equally good talk less of athletics. But today, Nigerians don’t know anything about jumps, we have lost our fame in boxing, we no longer participate in long distance races, lost our placement in shot put, discuss, javelin, our glory in track and field is long dead and yet Ambassador Hart came back to say Nigerian athletes have done well. We even lost out in the relays. We used to be a force to reckon with in Table Tennis, but God bless Segun Toriola and Monday Merotohoun that managed to squeeze us a gold. The Ministry of Sports should explain whether they are developing sports or ruining it. Nigerians should be told if the Sports Ministry is developing sports or their selfish interests.

Ajunwa Absolves Athletes, Technical Officials Of Blame

Atlanta’96 Olympic gold medallist and Nigeria first Olympic gold medalist, Chioma Ajunwa-Opara, has absolved athletes and technical officials that attended the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Australia of poor performance.

“Athletes and technical officials should not be blamed for the country flop at the Commonwealth Games but Sports administrators.

“We should not make athletes and technical officials as scapegoats whenever we perform poorly at any international competition. Technical officials will stay for many years without updating their skills, no coaching course or seminars, how do you expect them to improve. Our sports administrators should look into our poor performances at every world sports gathering in recent times and do what they are expected to do for the future success in our sports.”

“Those calling on athletes to retire are ignorant of what they are saying. When we have not discovered those that should take over from them why hurry them to an untimely retirement”, she querried. “We are not doing enough to develop athletes capable of winning gold for the country at major Games. It takes a lot of money, up-to-date facilities, excellent athletes welfare, programme to develop athletes to winning laurels for the country at international meets that include scientific training.

“How many Nigerian athletes are making waves abroad, how many of them are injured and seeking for assistance, but to no avail, all these should be looked into seriously before anyone rights athletes and the technical officials off. “We should face the fact, it is only when we encourage our sports men and women that success will attend our performance.”

Excuses Won’t Help Us –Ebewele

Edo State Director of Sports, Brown Ebewele has chided officials that usually hide under Nigeria’s poor preparations to major tournaments to explain off the nation’s flop at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Commenting on what he said was a monumental failure, Ebewele said Special Sports athletes who excelled at the Games trained under the same environment like their able bodied counterparts.

“I can’t comprehend excuses being given by these able bodied athletes. What about the disabled that won three out of Nigeria’s four gold medals Nigeria at the Games? If anyone should complain at all, it should be disabled athletes who were abandoned long time ago to cater for the able bodied athletes.”

According to the first Vice-President of Specials Sports Federation of Nigeria (SSFN), who said since it was now obvious that Nigeria could not do without special sports athletes, more attention should be directed towards their programmes and welfare. “Whether we like it or not, this nation can no longer do without special sports at the international sports arena. What the Sports Ministry should do now is to encourage the federation to continue to provide all they would need to excel”.

Continuing Ebewele asked, “Why should government keep paying training grants to the able bodied athletes who won nothing at the Games and left the disabled ones that won three gold medals with only their allowances to go home with, if we must move forward in sports, the trend most be reversed.”

The former Technical Director of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) the nation’s athletes and officials have been giving the same excuses each time we fail to win at major international sports tournaments, and we must chose the sports that Nigeria would bank on and not depend on individuals

Our Performance Was Disappointing–Mayaki

“Our performance was disappointing, in that countries such as Jamaica that could not match us in track and field events in the past won both sprints gold. This shows that there are certain things they are doing well that we are either not doing well or not doing at all.

If not for special sports athletes, we would have won just a gold, what a shame. When last has our coaches’ updated themselves or the country sent them on courses? Even if the government fails in this direction, what stops our coaches from deliberately updating themselves? Nothing. But because most are civil servants, they know their salaries would be paid at the end of the month. If it is a system where salary is tied to performance like what obtains in the private sector, there would be a difference in attitude and approach.

“Training now is scientific and not the past camping styles of several months that we are still used to. If you look at our athletes, it looks as if they are retrogressing in performance while other countries’ athletes are progressing in performance”.

Sports Administrators Failed Us –Fabio

“We failed because those saddled with the responsibility of putting the nation’s sports on the right track have failed to do so’, was how veteran sports commentator Fabio Lanipekun saw it. “The Games have ended and we have seen the best of Team Nigeria. I think it is not good enough. Questions should be put across to the administrators to explain their actions and inactions in the Games . I am saying this because there were a lot of abnormalities. We are reaping the fruit of inadequate preparations since our sports officials are only interested in attending championships without providing the enabling environment for the athletes to excel. Imagine the Indian boxer stopping a Nigerian boxer in the Commonwealth Games. Boxing used to be one of Nigeria’s best sports in the Games, but today our boxers can no longer withstand their counterparts from India, even Ghana. We are no longer talking of the Cubans now. I think it is now time for us to look inward”.

Outing Is A Disappointment –Ogunkoya

“There is no reason to beat about the bush about this, our athletes disappointed us in Melbourne and I don’t see why it has to be that bad”, declared one of Nigeria’s oustanding athlete, Faliat Ogunkoya. “We know they had some problems before leaving Nigeria, as they had to leave without two of their best athletes in the sprint, but I did not expect it to be that bad. It is imperative for former athletes to meet and see how we can halt the slide. I have spoken to some of my colleagues such as Henry Amike, Sunday Bada and Chioma Ajunwa and they all agreed that we have to meet and talk about this slide in our athletics. We cannot pretend as if we do not see what is happening and the fact that some of us are involved in the running of the AFN is enough for us to be concerned”.

“If something urgent is not done, the future of athletics in the country looks bleak, but with concerted efforts it can be reversed. We cannot fold our arms and give up because we have a problem now and the earlier we realise too that there is a problem the better for us.”

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“our sports officials are only interested in attending championships without providing the enabling environment for the athletes to excel”

This is true and that’s the real problem, but to be honest, about half of the officials actually didn’t attended the competition, they stayed in town.
Sometimes i wonder if they are incompetent or if they don’t care about results, but everything tends to tell me that it’s both…

I was just about to pick out the same quote! This is what Charlie always talks about. It pisses me off that these things happen. It puts a grey cloud over the sport.

Any word on what injury was sustained by the sprinter on the 3rd leg of the Nigerian 4 x100m relay? Was it an achilles tendon rupture?

Ankle twist during warm up. Was swollen up yet forced by relay coach to still run and twist again during the race.

This is from PJ him self describing the situation in another post (via KK)…

Adamu set to sack national coaches
By Patrick Omorodion

Posted to the Web: Monday, April 03, 2006

LONDON — Following Nigeria’s poor performance at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, the situation where the various sports associations keep standing national coaches who take over athletes that qualify to represent the country may become a thing of the past.

Director of Sports in the Sports and Social Development ministry Dr. Amos Adamu said in reaction to a question on the need of national coaches that the ministry would put a stop to the policy in no distant future. He said this was necessary to allow grass-root coaches who raise athletes and are conversant with their medical, psychological and other records accompany them to competitions in order not break the rhythm the athletes have struck.
“We have to review that policy soon, any coach who produces an athlete who qualifies for a competition should be able to be in the national camp to continue with his or her athlete. Somebody should not just sit down and expect others to produce athletes for him to take to competitions,” Dr. Adamu said shortly after the Commonwealth Games ended.

He also said that a deliberate attempt would be made to ensure that a grass-root policy is established to ensure that new talents are discovered and nurtured to replace the old and aging athletes whom he described as been over used.

“The problem with Nigeria is that once we discover new athletes we use them until we almost kill them without getting younger ones to replace them, that is what is happening to the athletes we brought to the Commonwealth Games, they have been representing us for a very long time and now they are overstretched”, he said.

He said his second coming to the ministry would enable him put in place a lasting structure that would focus on grass-root sports development to produce a reservoir of talents.

At the Commonwealth Games, a female triple jumper who placed fourth told Sports Vanguard that she performed poorly because she couldn’t grasp the techniques she was taught by the coaches at the national camp. The home-based athlete urged the ministry to allow athletes go to national camp with their coaches if the camping period was short or in the alternative beginning camping early enough for athletes to adjust to the new coaching in camp.

The Sports Vanguard report did not go down well with the national coaches in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) who reportedly harassed the athlete and threatened not to invite her to future camps.

I confirm that any attempt by athlete to modify to current system is sanctionned by ban threats.

Melbourne ‘06: Nigeria failed because we didn’t plan, says Ebewele
Eddie Akalonu

Posted to the Web: Saturday, April 01, 2006

*Wants big treat for Special Sports athletes

It is only the top officials of the Sports and Social Development Ministry in Abuja that are celebrating Nigeria’s performance in the just ended Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia although many Nigerians are disgusted at the very poor medal return.

With just a total 17 medals won, divided into 4 gold, 6 silver and 7 bronze which placed the country 13 on the overall medals table, this was a far cry from the 5 gold, 4 silver and 11 medals picked four years ago in Manchester that landed her 10th on the medals table.

It is on the basis of this that Edo State Sports director, Brown Ebewele reacted that true professional in sports predicted this poor outing months before the Games, yet top sports officials failed to listen.

“Yes, the results are so because we told you it as it is but no one listened. When we came out boldly to lament the poor state of sports on the basis of which the prediction that Melbourne would be poor, some called us Prophets of Doom. But we can never be gagged to hide the truth from the public and so, will continue to speak out.”
“And of course, the only thing we are now celebrating is the triumph of Special Sports in Melbourne. Except for Special Sports table tennis and Amputee men race that did not do well, the success of Special Sports in Melbourne can never be over emphasised.

Yet, these were athletes those in-charge of sports refused to recognise and be provided with necessary facilities and equipments to train and prepare for big Games as the Commonwealth Games.
“I can tell you that with 3 gold medals out of eight events Special Sports featured in the Games, plus some silver and bronze medals to go with it, it is time to elevate Special Sports athletes to more comfortable status and they should be recognised for it and honoured,” said Ebewele, who is the first- vice president of Special Sports Federation of Nigeria, SSFN.

As chairman of the SSFN technical committee also, he said the federation worked assiduously hard to ensure that it’s athletes competing in Melbourne either exceeded what was won in Manchester four years ago or at worst, simply match the 2 gold medals won by Adesoji in the 100m-T12 (Visually Impaired) and by Solomon Amarakuo in power-lifting (open bench press) men only.

“Mind you, we were able to work on our athletes within the short time the federation was reconstituted last year and we succeeded. However, I must say they were still able to perform, despite the very appalling condition of preparation the Sports Ministry subjected them into. My verdict now is, they must be accorded their due respect in facilities equipment provision, better environment to camp and train, adequate welfare and opportunity to attend competitions that are of utmost importance,”

Athletics has been the life of Ebewele. Until he entered into the world of sports administration, he had competed well in major national and international events in his major event- decathlon. At one time, he was a board-member of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria and in- fact chairman of his technical committee. Did he say Halleluya to the fact that sprinter, Fasuba picked a 100m silver medal as Vivien Chukwuemeka did in the discus women event? Ebewele was not so elated.

“So, I’m one who does my job well knowing that I derive pleasure in it. Before Melbourne, we knew and said athletics would fail. To Fasuba and Vivien, I say congratulations to them for throwing up that extra effort. But we said athletics would flop and it happened. Our prediction was based on basic factors on ground which ere clear to everyone.”

“I thing there’s no story that’s going to cover up the fact of the sorry state of athletics. Now, I heard Sunday Bada telling a story now about how he would scout for talents at the National Sports Festival in Abeokuta a few days from now. I have heard such story before. It is not new. But we should stop deceiving ourselves about certain things,” he said.
Asked to explain more on this, Ebewele tacitly posited that the problem was systemic, as the country is one that has relegated real professional sports technocrats and administrator to the background, leaving only novices and amateurs to run sports.

“First, how can Bada scout for talents at the National Sports Festival, when they have allowed professionals to into the same Festival on the guise of making it attractive to be marketed? Don’t you expect to see the likes of Fasuba, Ojokolo, Nkuh, JJ Okoch, Segun Toriola and others elite athletes in the Festival if they are fielded by their states? If that is the case, who does Bada intend to discover when all the big names are in the festival. He can only discover talents if we resort to the original format of having purely new people,” the Edo State sports boss said.
“I think too that the Federal Government has no special regard for sports, otherwise what we have on our hands would not be. It was almost three years ago that this country hosted the All Africa Games. The country knew we would participate in the Athens Olympics to be followed by the Commonwealth Games.”

“Yet, the facility where this was done, the Abuja National Stadium is locked up. That is supposed to be a sports development centre for youth empowerment. Why is it locked up when we have sporting competitions to participate at home and abroad? At the end of the day, you ask yourself, what is the stadium built there for? What is it expected to achieve for this country as a sporting arena. It is unbelievable I must say,” Ebewele stated.

On what ought to be done from now on to make a change, Ebewele reminded the authorities that athletes and coaches route for facilities upon where to build there future, they aspire to be provided with the necessary equipments with which to train all year round.

Last but not least, training for all facets of officials plus the Almighty funding to athletes, coaches and of course, the construction of more facilities and upgrading of old ones.
“For a developing country as Nigeria, you will be ironing the wheels of development of the economy and other areas if you take great care to invest in sports to increase the capacity and productivity of your youth. That’s exactly what this country is refusing to do. It’s a pity.”

The policy Adamu wants was called “father of the children” when Gerrard Mach created it in Canada 25 yrs ago, stating that coaches would be selected in order, based on the ranking and number of qualified athletes they produced. PERIOD.
Of course, once Gerrard retired, the policy was reversed by a cabal of non-producers, and then modified further to “children of the coach” National team coaches can now vault their own proteges over the heads of more deserving athletes for carding and selection. Have a look at the current carding list in Canada, and, based on the accepted comparison tables, see if you can figure out who’s doing what- and to whom!

Call me ignorant (which is probably true regarding this), but aren’t all of these stories regarding government sports organizations hosing athletes a good reason for privately-funded athletics? In this case, only the successful (by being good PR for a sponsor) can survive.

there’s no such thing really. even in the US, the gov’t indirectly funds to the tune of 100s of millions through the state universities in the form of scholarships and facilities

I know that it doesn’t really exist anywhere, but it could be a valid model. The maximum government bureacracy model in athletics has failed in many places.

the dozens of privately funded athletes are culled from the millions of publicly funded ones.

I am facing very similar situations i Taiwan…

i am trying to lobby more junior development, allow personal coaches greater input into major comp preperation of their athletes…

here in the past the head coach takes over any athlete once they qualify for a major meet… more often than not the head coach had been not as advanced as the individual coach apart from not knowing any related background into the training history and this often lead to poor major meet results… prior to one world champs 1 male ran 20.68 for a national record… was then taken over by the head coach and then put through 5 hrs of training 6 days a week for the next 4 months he came last in his heat in 22.??. and has since retired from the sport…

i will be posting some questions to those more knowledgable and experienced than i in my TAIWAN post regarding a number of issues in coming days…