AAG: Team Nigeria Begins Medal Chase In Brazza | Independent Newspapers Limited
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AAG: Team Nigeria Begins Medal Chase In Brazza

Posted: Sep 6, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu LAGOS

At last, the 11th edition of the All Africa Games in Brazzaville, Congo, has commenced with Nigeria’s 550-man contingent, made up of athletes and officials, departing the shores of the country on August 30 for the continental event.

SPOAs the Games start properly on Friday, many Nigerians have expressed doubt on the chances of the country, giving that Nigeria has always been known for checkered preparations for such events.

Nigeria’s preparations for previous sporting events have been dogged by hazy and epileptic approach, consequently translating to poor and uninspiring showings.

It is thus no surprise that some stakeholders have expressed doubt and reservations on the chances of the nation.

Patrick Ekeji, for example, said last week that there was no way Nigeria would win the Games as a result of inadequate funding, late release of the available fund and the fact that the country will not participate in all the events.

Also, former member of Delta State Sports Commission, Ejiro Etoroma, picked holes in the preparation for the Congo event.

“Well it is no longer news that we do not prepare well for any international competitions such as the All Africa Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games. “

It will be recalled that before the 2015 Games, Team Nigeria has a record of first position in 2003 and second, as well as third positions in about five editions, with the only triumph coming in Abuja in 2003.

But the hope of Nigerian contingent coming back with medals is hinged on athletics, powerlifting, boxing and probably tennis.

Starting from 100 metres men and women, 200 metres men and women to 400 relay, among other athletic events, the country boasts of enviable credentials.

For example, with the doping suspension of Botswana’s Amantle Montsho, who is the Africa’s 400 metres champion, the 400m gold medal fight will be between Nigerian duo of Patience Okon-George and Regina George.

So if it will do well at the Games, it will depend on the performances of these three sports.

It is heart-warming that Weightlifting and Taekwondo have been restored, as they were not competed for in Mozambique in 2011.

This is why national boxing coach, Anthony Konyegwachi, and national champion in 91kg, Efetobor Apochi, said they are sure boxers will haul medal for Nigeria at the Games.

“We are going for the medals in boxing; they will be as many as possible because my boxers are really motivated,” Konyegwachi said.

But if the words of Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Alhassan Yakmut, are anything to be believed, then the chances of Nigeria is not in doubt.

“Now that we are going to the 11th edition, we are going to make sure that we don’t go below the first three positions. But our target is to be the first after the event.”

Also, President of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Wahid Enitan Oshodi, assured that his sport would haul at least seven gold medals at the Games.

“This time around our target is seven gold and we are working towards achieving this target.”

Expressing similar optimism, Chairman of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Technical Committee, Daniel Igali, said Team Nigeria is targeting 62 gold medals.

“We are ready for the events and I believe from all the sports we are parading, Nigeria will target about 62 gold medals.”

Also, Coach of U-23 men’s football team, Samson Siasia, expressed confidence on the chances of his wards at the event. “We are going for the gold; what else do you think we are going after?

But the black spot remains that big athletes like Blessing Okagbare, will not be participating at the event. Also in women football, BBC World Footballer of the Year, Asisat Oshoala, was not listed in the Super Falcons squad.

Nigeria will be featuring in 21 out of the total of 32 sports, covering athletics, football, basketball and tennis. The country has participated in 10 editions of the games winning 934 medals, comprised of 334 gold, 305 silvers and 295 bronze medals.