THE just-concluded Olympics Games which took place in London, was a case of double jeopardy for Nigeria. The country lost respect and position as one of the pre-eminent sporting nations in Africa and the world. The sad truth is that Nigeria is no longer a force to reckon with in sporting competitions.
This was underscored by the woeful outing of the country at the. 2012 Olympics.
The athletes simply failed to give the citizens of the beleaguered nation, something to cheer about, in these times of pervading gloom. Over the years, sport has become a unifying force in Nigeria and the people needed the soothing balm of victory and above average performance, more than at any other time, in its national history. In truth, the woeful performances of Nigeria's athletes at the Olympics Games, would not come to watchers of Nigeria sports, as a surprise.
The tell-tale signs have been there for some years. The country was unable to hold its own in several major competitions that were held, in the run-up the Olympics. Football teams crashed out of competitions that had in the past, been won with relative ease; while athletes also had nothing to show for their participation in major competitions across the globe.
While other countries have road maps that would enable their athletes to perform well at the games and other competitions, Nigeria continued with its haphazard preparation and fire brigade approach which sadly have become the main tools for its sports administrators.
It is a thing of regret that they have failed to build on the past impressive performances achieved in boxing through Peter Konyegwachie, Long Jump through Chioma Ajunwa, weightlifting through Ruth Ogbeifo, athletics through the likes of Innocent Egbunike, Falilat OgunKoya, the late Sunday Bada, Mary Onyali Omagbemi and of course the dream team which stunned the world to win the gold medal in football, at the Atlanta games in 1996.
Why did Nigeria surrender her dominance of the sprints and the quarter mile races? As things stand the country no longer has a sport event which it can describe as her major area of dominance.
Time has come for Nigeria to change course and reappraise her participation in sporting competitions. The sports administrators should see the fiasco in London as a wake-up call. It is no longer enough to participate in international competitions, only to return home empty-handed, while less-endowed and populous countries mount the rostrums to receive medal after medal.
Nigeria should now determine her areas of strength with a view to invest and wholly develop them. The often-repeated grassroot development of sports, should be translated into concrete reality. Competitive sport must be compulsorily reintroduced in public and private schools.
Sport is now scientific and the rudimentary approach to training and development of athletes should be jettisoned in Nigeria, if she wants to make any headway. A process of specialisation that will lead to the discovery, training and retraining of athletes in areas identified as our core competence must now begin in earnest.
It is not just enough to herd athletes together just months to a competition and embark on training tours while other countries had put in years of well-structured build up programmes. There cannot be any substitute for good planning, well structured programme and hard work. This is the time to put the house of sports in order and chart a way forward.
Nigeria cannot afford to continue to be a laughing stock at sports fiestas. Preparations for future sporting events such as Rio Olympics in 2016, must start now!