2010 INDIA GAMES, NO JAMBOREE
Olympian and Commonwealth gold medallist, Daniel Igali, has thrown in the gauntlet and declared that any country that writes off Nigeria at the Games in New Delhi, India, would be doing so at her own peril.
The technical adviser of the Nigeria Amateur Wrestling Federation (NAWF) said Nigeria has a strong prospect in garnering medals at the Games despite the stiff opposition the country would face from other nations in India. Bringing it to his sport, wrestling, Igali said the country's chances would be bright due to our level of preparedness for the Games.
'I can't speak for other sports, but I know that in wrestling, our chances are evenly spread in the three categories we are to compete in. Like any other country, we have medal opportunities in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women wrestling,' the ex-wrestler stated. 'My aspiration is that we should win more than 10 medals in India, and the few competitions we took part in prior to the Games aided our preparation.'
Commenting on the memories returning to the Games evoke in him now as a coach, Igali, the 2002 Manchester Games gold medallist said he would be back on the mats with the strong desire to see his wards excel. 'The emotion I had for the Games as an athlete is far removed from what it is today as a coach. As an athlete, I was mindful of the instructions from my coaches. Then, I depended on my coaches and my instinct while weathering the storm.
'Now, this is my first Commonwealth Games as a coach. It is a different challenge. Though to some extent, the feelings are interwoven because whether you are a coach or an athlete, a common goal is uniting all competitors in a game, the target is to emerge as the best,' continued.
'However, I am looking forward to a good outing at the Games in India. I am not jittery about meeting athletes from Canada, my aim is to ride over every opponent.' Meanwhile, Nigeria is aiming at finishing as the best African nation at the 19th edition of the Commonwealth Games in India. “Our target is to finish as the best African team at the Games,” stated the Director General of National Sports Commission, Chief Patrick Ekeji.
At the last edition of the Games in Melbourne, Australia, South Africa finished as Africa's best team with 12 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze medals. Kenya finished five places below with six gold, five silver and seven bronze medals. While Nigeria placed 12th with four gold, six silver and seven bronze medals, with special sports athletes contributing three of the gold medals. Monday Merohun and Segun Toriola got the country's remaining gold medal in table tennis men's double event.
At the Games in India, Nigeria will compete in track and field, boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, special sports and table tennis. The country's hopes will again be on special sports, athletics and table tennis, with multi-talented Blessing Okagbare, the star of the recent African Athletics Championship in Kenya, being Nigeria's biggest medal prospect. Okagbare will feature in the 100 and 200 metres sprints, long jump, as well as anchor the 4x100m relay team.
Ajoke Odumosu, who set a new national record of 54.68secs in the 400m hurdles in Split, Croatia last month, is also expected to win medal for the country, while British-based triple jumper, Tosin Oke, a gold medallist at the African Championships, is favoured to reach the podium in Delhi.
Sprints star, Olusoji Fasuba, who won silver in the men's 100m four years ago in Australia, is not part of Nigeria's contingent to the Games in India after falling out with the authorities. Nigeria will not present any male relay team in India. This is a huge setback for a nation that won 4x400m gold at the Sydney Olympics, 4x100m bronze at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“We are presenting athletes who we are sure that they will give us medals. The era of taking a crowd to international competitions and creating a lot of scene is over. We want total concentration and not confusion in the camp,” the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Solomon Ogba, declared.