19th March, 2012
Nigeria’s bronze medalist in the 200m at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, USA, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi has predicted doom for Team Nigeria at the forthcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Onyali-Omagbemi, the first Nigerian to compete at five consecutive Olympics from Barcelona ’88 to Athens ‘04 before her feat was equalled by table tennis players, Bose Kaffo and Segun Toriola, four years later in Beijing 2008, said Nigerians should not expect much from Team Nigeria.
According to Onyali, only athletics stand a chance of making a significant impact at the Games.
The former African queen of the tracks said: “I think Nigerians need to have a rethink concerning their expectations from Team Nigeria because I don’t see them performing wonders in London.”
She stressed further that preparations for a global sports fiesta like the Olympic Games should have commenced immediately the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games ended, and not for Nigeria to begin at the last minute.
She, however, urged the country’s track and field athletes to aim high as they step up their preparation for the Games, saying the appointment of Innocent Egbunike as head coach of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, would boost the country’s chances of doing well at the Games.
“I want to believe that the appointment of Egbunike as coach of the athletics team, would make things work for Nigerian athletes. He will be able to analyse each athlete and prescribe peculiar training techniques for a better performance,” Onyali-Omagbemi said on a radio programme early today.
Meanwhile, the Supervising Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has expressed delight with the qualification of another Nigerian wrestler for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The Nigerian Wrestling team are currently participating in an Olympics qualifier, involving teams from Africa and Oceania in Marrakech, Morocco.
Team Nigeria have qualified for the 96 Kg slot through its participation in the World Championship, which took place last year.