Controversy trails ministry’s 60-man sports icons’ list


Charles Ogundiya

Discordant tunes have trailed the recently released list of 60 sports icons by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The ministry unveiled the 60 icons at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola National
Stadium in Abuja on Friday, with the icons cutting across various sports and
The event, which is in celebration of Nigeria’s most outstanding 60 sports persons in the last 60 years, had names of notable sports personalities.
However, there are reactions from several stakeholders, calling into question the
quality of the list.
Veteran journalist, Ikedy Iziguzo, said the list doesn’t represent the true sporting
icons in Nigeria with the absence of notable names like Ruth Ogbeifo and Glory
“Anyone who remembers the stories of Ruth Ogbeifo and Glory Alozie will see how
injurious this ICON injustice is,” he said.
“Ruth possibly could have won the gold but for an injury she was treating months to
the games. An NGO, HOPE Worldwide Nigeria, not the NSC, assisted with funds for her medicals.
“She lifted 245kg same as Colombian Maria Urrutia who won the gold medal because of her lower body weight. Now her medal is treated with indifference.
“Glory almost didn’t compete in Sydney after her fiance Hyginus Anugo died in a car
accident in Sydney. She won a silver drenched in tears and sorrow, the medal
was an addition to a silver at the 1999 World Championships. She is not an
Former Director General, National Sports Commission, Steve Olarinoye, defended the
Nigeria Weightlifting Federation as he revealed that the federation actually
submitted the name of Ruth Ogbeifo as the first African to win a silver medal in weightlifting at the Olympics.
Olarinoye said: “I must say this in defence of the Nigeria Weightlifting Federation
that a list of past and present lifters were submitted as requested and Ruth Balofin (Ogbeifo)’s name was No 1 as the first African to win a silver medal in weightlifting at the Olympics.
“As a matter of fact, she finished with the same lift with the eventual gold
Medalist but lost due to body weight.
“Some of us were present at the Sydney Olympics in year 2000. We were therefore
surprised that her name did not feature. Perhaps, there are other criteria used.”
Another administrator, who crave anonymity, said if some people’s name could make the list, then it is injustice for some to have missed out.
“If Ruth isn’t there, then there’s a problem. I’m seeing so many Olympics bronze
medallists on the list, what criteria did they use in dropping her and others?
“What was spectacular about Garba Lawal? As a member of Atlanta team, ok,
individually no. Where’s Osimhen, record scorer at U-17 W/Cup and winner?
“If Adesanya is there, why isn’t Anthony Joshua? What about Rafiu Ladipo? Why is
Adokiye not there and there are other 1980 AFCON squad members? Where is Amodu?
“The Enyimba set that won the CAF champions league for the very first time for
Nigeria was not even mentioned, I did not see Victor Ikpeba the crown prince of
Monaco on the list, a former African Footballer of the Year.”
Joseph Yobo, who captained the Eagles for over 10 years and recorded over 100 caps, as well as Vincent Enyeama, who also recorded over 100 caps were excluded.
The national women basketball team D’Tigress recorded impressive back-to-back feats in Afrobasket but they were also not part of it.
Stakeholders also argued that the icons awards could have been a yearly thing rather than being done at once to allow for a few omissions to be corrected.
A ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “It is not good to rubbish a good work. There can never be a perfect list but the list rolled out was fair enough.”


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