Captain of Team Nigeria to the London 2012 Olympics, Chika Chukwumerije has asked Nigerians to collectively absorb the pains resulting from the failure of the country’s athletes at the games and begin to work immediately ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
FAILED BID ••• Chukwumerije (r) in action for Nigeria.
Speaking in Lagos Tuesday, a sober Chukwumerije who competed at the games but failed to pick a medal in the Taekwondo event (+84kg class), said, “the pain of the 2012 London Olympics is still fresh on our minds. Personally, I am deeply hurt by the result and so are the over 150 million Nigerians. There are no excuses to be given; no blame game and no escape from the trauma of that pain. The pain is real and as we come to terms with that failure, we must share the collective pain.”
Chukwumerije said Nigerians should learn to stop apportioning blames each time “the country’s athletes fail in international competitions. He was philosophical.
“For me I understand these things even better. We must come together and share the blame; just as we shared the joy of the 2 gold medals Team Nigeria won at the Atlanta Olympics… shared the joy when Blessing Okagbare jumped to a bronze medal at the Beijing Olym-pics…shared the joy when news filtered in that the silver medal won by the late Sunday Bada-led 4x400m Relay team at the Sydney Olympics had been upgraded to gold; same for now- though it is unpalatable to digest – we must come together and share the pains of Nigeria’s failure at the London Olympics. I believe joy and sorrow depict the two sides of a coin.”
The Team Nigeria captain said he felt he had the best preparation before the London Games. “For four years I trained hard and had one of the best coaches in the sport,” he said, insisting that he was not under any pressure to win a medal. “Any athlete who trained hard, and was physically and psychologically fit, like I felt I was, had no reason to panic before his event.
I worked hard, followed a programme that saw me win a bronze at Beijing, I won a silver at the All Africa Games and the same programme I followed to qualify for the London Olympics, I travelled to Asia and Europe. I was fit. I could see the gold; I smelt it. Everything was done for me to earn a medal but I failed.
I am disheartened that my result fell short of what millions of Nigerians expected. It was sheer luck. That is sports.”