Should we say history repeated itself in disguise? Do we say they are the ‘real Nigerian Olympians?’ Should they be credited or condemned? Do we say there is glory after disappointment or after being faltered? How have we contributed our appreciative quota to them? So many rhetorical questions, who will answer them?
For the team Nigeria, bringing home the only medal from the world’s biggest sporting event, the Dream Team VI should be credited according to some, and should be scolded according to others. In picking what side to stay on, there are so many constraints to be put into consideration.
After bringing home the gold medal in Atlanta ’96, the nation’s football team has again done Africa proud after failing to clinch a medal at the Olympics football event in Sydney 2000, 2004 silver in Beijing 2008, and even failing to qualify for football in London 2012. This medal according to the team Nigeria captain and soccer team skipper, John Mikel Obi is seen as the golden bronze facing the fact that it is the nation’s only medal at the event this year, ranking 78th on the medal list.
Taking a glance at history or dating back to 20 years, the Olympics team Nigeria was stranded at exactly around the same period and the famous American aviation company, Delta airline was there to come to the rescue of the team and fortunately or otherwise, the team was able to clinch a gold medal at the football event. This feat repeating itself is what can be permitted to be called the silver lining behind the dark cloud. Having being ‘neglected’ or faltered, the same American airline conveyed the Olympians to Rio just 6 hours to the kick off of their first fixture all the way from the US where they had training sessions, making ‘history’ come again by the same ‘helpers’ exactly 20 years after. It was the golden honour in Atlanta, silver in Beijing and the bronze in Rio. Or do we say the Delta airline pocess some favourable charms for the Olympic soccer team?
Grabbing the 3rd place (bronze) in this year’s soccer competition, an Olympics record has been set as the only country to have all medals in the soccer event Gold (Atlanta ‘96), Silver (Beijing 2008) and Bronze (Rio 2016). This memorable feat wouldn’t have been achieved without the ‘Golden Bronze’ in Rio.
Also, our very own goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi was recognized by FIFA as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. Akpeyi kept goal only one game for Nigeria at the tournament but was credited by FIFA on their website, in their tournament review as the keeper with the highest number of saves during the Olympics which is about the only individual award secured by the team.
But on the contrary, taking to cognizance the ‘rigorous’ training they went through in the US, the defeats conceded by the team by Germany and Columbia could and should have been averted and avoided if there was a ‘discipline training’ in the camp.
“The indiscipline ate so deep into the lads that they forgot the interest of whom they were there to protect and made a fool of themselves when the head coach Samson Siasia and skipper Mikel had to beg them to play about two games.” These were the words of Kunle Adebayo of the Morning Plight as he scolded the Olympics bronze medalists.
Can we liken this to an act of discipline? Not even leaving out the fact that many other countries long to participate at the Olympics, but get bounced at one point of the qualifying stages or couldn’t even get close to clinching a medal.
The team should be duly recognized, congratulated and rewarded. Very big congratulations first for clinching the bronze medal, and also for setting an Olympics record.