Nigerian President orders overhaul of sport after London 2012 medal blank
Thursday, 16 August 2012
August 16 - Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered a comprehensive restructuring of sport in the country following their failure at London 2012 to win a medal at the Olympics for the first time since 1988.
Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with a population of 160 million, had high hopes of winning its first Olympic gold medal since Sydney 12 years ago, with the main focus being on long-jumper Blessing Okagbare and taekwondo player Chika Chukwumerije.
But in the end its team of 55 athletes who competed in eight sports ended up empty-handed, failing to match the performance from Beijing four years ago when they won four medals, a silver and three bronze.
Okagbare was only 17th in long jump qualifying while Chukwumerije, a bronze medallist in Beijing, was knocked out in the first round of the -80 kilogram event.
Its best performance in London came in the women's 4x100 metres relay in the Olympic Stadium where the team finished fourth.
But Nigeria also suffered the humiliation of its men's basketball team suffering the biggest defeat in Olympic history when they lost 156-73 to the United States.
"He [Jonathan] said what took place in London must be the beginning of a new momentum to place Nigerian sports at a level that will enable this country return to the glory it is known for in the areas of sports," said Nigeria's Minister of Information Labaran Maku following a Cabinet meeting in Abuja.
Nigeria spent $13 million (£8 million/€11 million) preparing its team for London 2012 but Jonathan now wants private companies to help sponsor preparations for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"President Jonathan believes for us to change the present scenario, we need to specialise, we need to plan and we need to fund sports in a way that this country will continue to make impact in the sporting sector," said Maku.
"Mr President emphasised the need for early planning, better administration of sports as well as funding which he believes can no longer be left to the Government alone but must involve the private sector to generate sufficient resources."