17th October, 2012
Yahaya Adamu, a West African Zone 3 KATA champion and KADA Games 2009 gold medallist spoke with BIMBO AJAYI on the state of karate in Nigeria and other issues.
How do you pass the time now that there is no competition in sight?
All I do at the moment is to train in order to be in good shape. Actually, we lost an opportunity to feature at a tourney last month because we could not get a sponsor. Yet I have made up my mind not to relent in my training so that I will not be caught unawares if any competition suddenly comes up. There is the WKF Championship coming up in France very soon. My colleagues and I will do our best to be at the tourney even if we have to sponsor ourselves.
Do you think that government sponsorship of sports is still important since athletes can source for funds on their own?
Government sponsorship is a right that is supposed to be enjoyed by athletes in the country. When government sponsors sports, athletes in the country will have the opportunity to express themselves by making maximum use of their talents. What many people don’t understand is that sports is not about training alone. There is a need for athletes to attend competitions where they can test their abilities. Unfortunately, that is not the situation in Nigeria.
How will you rate Nigerian karatekas at the last All Africa Games?
My reply to this question will depend on the yardstick that we want to use in rating the athletes. If I am asked to rate the karatekas based on their preparation to the games, I will say that they performed excellently. But the karatekas would have done better than they did if they had been given proper camping before the games. You don’t expect an athlete that spends a couple of months in camp to perform better than the one that spends almost four years to prepare for the same competition. That is the situation in the country and it is not helping us at all.
Were you disappointed that karate did not feature at the London 2012 Olympics?
I was not disappointed in the least because I knew why karate was not featured at the games. The issue was that the International Olympic Committee needed to be convinced that karate is a safe sport. And I am delighted that the World Karate Federation did that sucessfully at the games when the sport was demonstrated for the world to see. However, there are other lesser championships where Nigerian karatekas can compete but you will not see them there. We don’t realise the fact that it is in these championships that the karatekas can get rid of the stage fright that could affect them at bigger events like the All Africa Games and the Olympics. In truth, the Olympic Games is the most important competition, but Nigerian athletes should be given the privilege to compete at events of lesser status.