Former Nigerian Queen of the track, Mary Onyali says Nigerians should not expect Team Nigeria to churn out better results than they did four years ago when the XXI Commonwealth Games takes place in April.
Nigeria will be involved in 10 sports: Athletics, Basketball, Wrestling, Weightlifting, Boxing, Table Tennis, Gymnastics, Para table tennis, Para Athletics and Para Powerlifting.
Team Nigeria won 36 medals at the Glasgow Games in 2014, 3 more than they did in 2010. In athletics, 7 medals were won in 2014, 3 more than the 2010 edition in India.
ACLSports reported here that technical director Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Sunday Adeleye was optimistic about the chances of Team Nigeria in Gold Coast next month. A total number of 37 athletes will be participating in the track and field events.
Onyali rather thinks the lesser the number of sports and athletes participating at the Games, the lower our expectation for medals.
“We can’t surpass our medal haul in 2014 because we are going to be involved in 10 sports in this 2018 Games unlike the previous editions, we went with 14 or 15 sports. There are more chances and opportunities in winning more medals when you go with more sports,” she said
She also pointed out harsh weather condition as another factor that would deprive the athletes in Australia.
“The situation may even be more criticial as far as medal haul is concerned because Australia is in the most Southern Hemisphere and their summer which is supposed to be the warmest part of their season is not in line with our summer, their summer is on right now. Athletics is where most of our medals are won in major championship.”
“October- April is when we consider our build up to the new season. During this period, athletes are heavy in training, not sharp, not fast and ready for speed work and competitiveness. We actually start competing competitively from April, May, June, July, August which is our peak so this period is an off peak period in athletics.”
The Former fastest woman in Africa continues “It is going to be extremely difficult for our athletes, coaches to adjust and coil in medals like our last outing in 2014 which was in August and was perfectly suited for the tip top shape of our athletes. We are going to face a lot of hurdles because of this factor I just mentioned. The time of the year when the Commonwealth will take place is off peak, our coaches and athletes can’t fully adjust to it and we are going with lesser sports than the last Commonwealth Games. We will do well but not to be compared to what we did in the last Commonwealth Games.
Onyali however believes it will be of great advantage to other countries used to similar weather as the Australians. “The timing of this Commonwealth Games is negative for Team Nigeria and I am sure it will pave way for other nations with same summer athletics season like the Australians, for example South Africa won’t struggle. I believe Jamaica will have same problem because they share same peak season with Nigeria.”
2014 Commonwealth Games medallist in Long jump, Ese Brume, former junior champion in the 200m, Divine Oduduru and 3-time National champion in the 100m men event, Seye Ogunlewe are key misses from the official list to Gold Coast.
Onyali explained to ACLSports why they were excluded from the official list. “Ese and Divine are students and some schools may not want to release their athletes at this time of the year because the students had an agreement with the schools to compete for them first before anything else, that’s the contract they have signed.”
“For Seye, he made a technical error in deciding not to run the finals all by himself without proper clearance and the technical committee made a decision after reviewing the whole thing and decided to let it be because it won’t be fair on other athletes if he was allowed back on the team when he should have competed like everyone else.
Ogunlewe’s exclusion was reported here after he was surprisingly dropped from the official list to Gold Coast. ACLSports gathered from a reliable source why he failed to make the cut.
Onyali continued “a lot of wrongs have been done in the past technically and a lot of athletes have cried and complained about it, the new federation have decided to put an end to all the wrongs that have happened in the past. It’s unfortunate this has to happen to Seye who is one of our best sprinters right now but the new board have decided to play by the rules and make sure that whoever erred needs to accept the decision handed over by the federation. I felt bad when I heard the news about Seye. He is like a younger brother to me, I spoke to his agent and he understood. If I were him like I spoke to his agent, I’ll just let it die there we all made mistakes, he made his just that it was a costly mistake and other athletes will learn from it not to take laws into their own hands.” She concluded