As the London 2012 Summer Olympics kicks off today Friday, July 27, Team Nigeria will be hoping to greatly improve it’s Beijing 2008 record of just 1 silver and 3 bronze medals.
Asides from the Athletics and Basketball categories where Nigeria is expected to perform moderately well (thanks to all the akpu wey them don dey chop), Nigeria also hopes to gain some medals from some other sides; some new waters and others old trials.
In Canoe Slalom, Nigeria’s first Olympic canoeist, Johny Akinyemi, will be hoping to win a medal for the country. Akinyemi, who chose to represent Nigeria other than Great Britian where he lives and learnt the art of canoeing, has said he’s grateful for the chance to represent the country.
In the team sports area, majority of Nigerians are still sad over the fact Austin Eguavoen and his U-23 team did not qualify for the Olympics. The Men’s basketball team though, despite many stumbling blocks, shocked everyone by beating European powerhouse Greece and Venezuela on their way to qualifying for the 12-team Basketball competition in London. And even though analysts like ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla (with his long head like omorogun Iya Moria) have said the team qualified by luck and “do not stand a chance of winning at all”, the Nigerian faithful still hope that NBA star Al-Farouq Aminu and his streak of Tigers will be able to bite off some major flesh and come home with some medals.
In other single events, Nigeria will be hoping Taekwondo fighter Chika Chukwumerije can improve on his Beijing 2008 Bronze model (after all the gidigbo wey boys don teach am) and bring home a higher medal than he did 4 years ago.
Other medal hopes appear in Amaechi Morton who will race in the 400m hurdles. He won the gold at the recently concluded African Championships in Benin, and Tosin Oke who is going home to London to compete in the Triple Jump. He is a former British junior champion who won the African title back-to-back.
The brightest Gold medal hope for Nigeria however, is sprinter Blessing Okagbare. The sprinter attained success recently in the Monaco Diamond League, setting a personal best time of 10.96 seconds. Brimming with that confidence, Blessing is determined to set ablaze the tracks at London.
In her own words “My recent win in Monaco has boosted my confidence, I think I’m ready to face the world. I’m just going to go out and do my best. I’m aiming for a top three overall. If I get the gold, I’ll take it. Whatever happens, I will accept my fate.”, one can easily spot the desire burning in her to make this great nation proud.
Blessing will also be the country’s representative at the Long Jump event
As the Olympics get underway today, we wish #TeamNigeria the very best and pray they come home victorious like the Champions that they are.