by Akan Ido
The minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has revealed that Nigeria will be aiming for five gold medals in the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He also said President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered an early preparation for the games coming in 2016.
The Nigerian contingent to the just concluded London Olympics Games has received severe criticisms for failing to win a single medal and performing poorly despite the amount of funds expended in executing the country’s participation.
The minister harped on the importance of early preparation for the games saying, “Mr. President believes if we start to work now we can win five gold medals in Rio in 2016. If we start to work towards that target, we may or may not meet it, but we must begin now to work towards it and believe it is possible,” Abdullahi said.
“It seems we’re under pressure now; everybody is angry and outraged. But we must resist the temptation for reflex action. We can’t just start doing things because we want people to see that we’re responding to stimuli. That’ll be wrong and won’t be sustainable.
“What we need to do is to be very deliberate and conscious about what we need to do. There’s not going to be an easy solution, there’s not going to be a quick fix. What we’re talking about (emerged) from many years of decay and collapse. Whatever we do now, we must begin to show result in two years time. That is why it is very good for us that the Commonwealth Games will be coming up in 2014 and we can use that to re-launch for the 2016 Games.
“We shouldn’t forget that football is very critical in Nigeria. We have the Nations Cup coming up in January in South Africa in 2013 and the World Cup in 2014. All these will provide the opportunity for us to begin to rebuild. If we begin today to identify children and talent that can compete well with the right age and exposure, I think we can get them ready for Brazil.
“In Olympic term four years are nothing; we’re actually thinking of an eight-year plan. Some of the countries that did very well in London have already started preparing. We have to start now. We’re considering giving priority to sports that will give us the opportunity to excel and apportion our resources along those lines in short and medium term measures.
“We have to go back to the system that allows us to discover talents; the system that allows us to nurture them and allows us to give them the right exposure.”
The minister says he plans to reorganise and rejuvenate the National Sports Commission to be more alive to its responsibilities through prompt release of funds and cooperation with state governments in the discovery and development of young talents to represent the country in future competitions.