29th September, 2010
Team Nigeria are going to the 2010 Commowealth Games in India for two things; first toÂ finish as the top Africa team and secondly to do Nigeria proud as the country celebrateÂ her 50th independence anniversary.
Officials of the National Sports Commission, NSC, have declared that the countryâ€™sÂ athletes will be targeting to finish as the top African team at the 19th CommonwealthÂ Games, which begin in New Delhi on 3 October.
â€œOur main target is to ensure that we finish as the best African team at the Games,â€ saidÂ the Director General, DG of the NSC,Â Patrick Ekeji.
â€œWe are presenting athletes who we are sure will give us medals. The era of taking aÂ crowd to international competitions and creating a lot of scene is over. We want totalÂ concentration and not confusion in the camp,â€ insisted the president of the AthleticsÂ Federation of Nigeria, AFN, Solomon Ogba.
At the last edition in Melbourne, Australia, South Africa finished as Africaâ€™s best teamÂ with 12 golds, 13 silvers and 13 bronze medals, while Kenya finished five places belowÂ with 6 golds, 5 silvers and 7 bronze medals.
Nigeria placed 12th with 4 golds, 6 silvers and 7 bronze medals with special sportsÂ athletes contributing three of these golds, while Monday Merohun and Segun Toriola gotÂ the countryâ€™s other gold in the table tennis menâ€™s double event.
Nigeria will compete in track and field, boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, special sportsÂ and table tennis.
The countryâ€™s hopes will again be in special sports, athletics and table tennis with theÂ multi-talented Blessing Okagbare, the star at the recent African Athletics ChampionshipÂ in Kenya, Nigeriaâ€™s biggest medal prospect.
Okagbare will feature in the 100m and 200m sprints, the long jump as well as anchor theÂ 4x100m relay team.
Ajoke Odumosu, who set a new national record of 54.68 secs in the 400m hurdles in Split,Â Croatia, last month, is also expected to medal, while British-based triple jumper TosinÂ Oke, gold medallist at the African Championships, is favoured to reach the podium inÂ Delhi.
Sprints star Olusoji Fasuba, who won silver in the menâ€™s 100m four years ago inÂ Australia, is not part of Nigeriaâ€™s contingent to the games after falling out with theÂ authorities.
Nigeria will not present any male relay teams at the games. This is a huge setback for aÂ nation that won 4x400m gold at the Sydney Olympics and 4x100m bronze at the BarcelonaÂ Olympics in 1992 and the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Morale in the team has sagged, however, as athletes complained of poor preparation and aÂ drastic cutback on their daily camping allowances.