Nigeria not ready to break Olympics’ gold medal jinx in Paris, Igali says

Contrary high hopes that the country may finally win another gold medal at the forthcoming Paris 2024 Games, Nigeria Wrestling Federation President, Daniel Igali, has said that the country is not prepared to break that jinx.

Nigeria’s last Olympics gold medal was won at the Sydney 2000 Games where the 4×400 metres men’s team won a silver medal, which was later converted to gold by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), following the disqualification of the U.S. team for fielding adrug offender in the final race.

Since then, the country has not repeated the feat they first achieved at the 1996 Games when Chioma Ajunwa and the men’s football team gave the country two gold medals.

Nigeriais preparing for the Paris 2024 edition of the games with the hope of surpassing its performance at the Tokyo Games, where Nigeria won only one silver and one bronze medal.

But Igali, a gold medallist for Canada at the 2000 Games, doused such expectations yesterday in Lagos when he said that the country has not done anything in the past four years to suggest that it is ready to be among the world’s best in any of the sporting events at Paris 2024, He said: “It takes constant preparation, meticulous planning and participation in major international competitions to get an athlete ready for the Olympic Games.

“For an athlete to dream of a medal at the Olympics, he must be among the top four in his discipline. Then you ask yourself, how many Nigerians were among the top four in their events at their respective World Championships last year?

“You don’t wish for success; you work for it,” he said. Igali said the country’s athletes have been hampered by poor funding from the Federal Government, adding that Nigeria’s sports federations’ budget is very poor compared to other African countries.

“Egypt, Tunisia, South Africa and Algeria’s wrestling federations’ budgets are more than $1 million each yearly. Here, we don’t get anything from the government unless it is time for a competition.Any federation that waits forthe government to run its programmes is bound to fail because such monies are not there.

“I was encouraged to borrow money to run a wrestling camp ahead of the Japan 2020
Olympics, where we got a bronze medal and up till now, that money has not been repaid.

“Serious countries start preparing for the Olympics once one ends, but in Nigeria, we wait until it is a few months before the competition to release money for the event that we did not prepare for. So, people hoping that the country will perform wonders in Paris will be disappointed.”

The wrestling federation president, whose tenure ends next year, said that a few athletes might excel at the Games, pointing at 100m hurdles world champion, Tobi Amusan, as one that could come good in Paris if she is supported adequately to prepare for the games.

He assured Nigerians that he would continue to push for the wrestlers to be in top shape ahead of Paris 2024 Olympics, adding that six of the fighters have already qualified for the Games.

Back to top button