VENTURES AFRICA – It only happens once every four years, but the few weeks of any Olympic Games are always full of excitement, joy, passion, disappointment but ultimately an avenue to compete with the best of athletes from all over the world. And thanks to superb organisation, the 2012 London Olympics hasn’t been any different. Here are a few of my thoughts on Africa’s plight in the games so far:
NIGERIA: THE FIRE~BRIGADE APPROACH
It isn’t the first time that Africa’s most populous nation will go into a major championship on the back of shoddy preparations. And it doesn’t seem to be the last – it is a norm for the “Giant of Africa”. Year in year out, the country’s athletes are never given proper attention. What happens is a situation where a few months to a major competition, a fire brigade approach is adopted by officials and then the nation is expected to “pray” and “hope” for the best.
Nigeria’s government released about 2.3 billion naira (9 million Pounds) just a few months to the games. A huge investment you would say, but definitely one that is the right thing at the wrong time. Nigeria’s Vanguard Newspapers quotes an unnamed official as saying the late release of funds is a major reason for the country’s woeful performances at the games.
Hear him: “2 billion naira can help our sports and help us win gold medals at the Olympic Games if it is released in time and spread over four years for preparation. From the last Olympics in Beijing till date if we used2 billion naira to develop our athletes, train them, expose them and enter them for competitions, I will be telling you how many gold medals we can win here in London.”
Unfortunately, as at the time of writing this, Nigeria is yet to win any medal. So much is the anxiety for any colour of medal that Maryam Usman, a weightlifter was accorded a bronze medal even before her event was through. Even respected news outlets published the information which later turned out false. Ultimately, the country’s wait to podium continues.
KENENISA BEKELE IS HUMAN AFTERALL
If there was one race which had everyone glued to their seats, then definitely, the 10000 metres men’s final was it. This was because two questions needed to be answered: would Ethiopian great Kenenisa Bekele create history by going past legendary compatriot Haile Gabrselassie’s feat and be the first man to win three consecutive gold medals or would Britain’s Mo Farah (with African roots) rise to the occasion and win his first?
Bekele was really looking forward to going one step ahead of the great Gabrselassie. Sadly, he only managed fourth position as Mo Farah’s amazing finish clinched gold. Consolation is, Bekele’s younger brother Tariku~ who looks a great prospect~ clinched the bronze medal.
OSCAR PISTORIUS: A CHAMPION EVEN IN DEFEAT
Perhaps South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius provided the world with the most compelling story of the 2012 London Olympics – even before it’s ended. His story is one that has inspired lots of people from all over the world. Participating in the competition itself has been a story of doggedness as he was initially banned by rules of the International Amateur Athletics Federation. The athletics ruling body opined that the use of his carbon fibre prosthetics called Cheetah Flex~Foot puts him at an advantage. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sports ruled in his favour and on August 4th, Pistorius became the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympic Games. Not only did he participate but he became a source of inspiration to lots of viewers all across the globe. He may have not qualified for the finals of the 400 metres but popular CNN broadcaster Piers Morgan best described the scene on his twitter page when he wrote, “Heroic. #Pistorius.”
More so, South African Kim Masters reckons in her piece for The UK Newspaper, The Metro “Yes, there was disappointment….but the image of Kirani James (winner of the race) swapping name tags with Oscar on the track at the end of the race~ that will stay with me forever… Pistorius is the people’s champion as well as a sporting champion. For me, he is the symbol of everything we can do and everything we dream of doing.”
Image via sports.inquirer