•We’re motivated to make Nigeria proud, say team captain
•Udo-Obong tips athletics for medals
Team Nigeria’s performances at the last two Olympic Games were shambolic and the members of the current squad are determined to prevent a repeat of such dismal outings as the Tokyo 2020 Games get underway this weekend in the Far East country. Nigeria came back home empty-handed at the 2012 London Games and could manage just a bronze medal the last time in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with the Samson Siasia-led football team registering the solitary medal. However, according to the Team Nigeria captain to 2020 Olympics Aruna Quadri, members of the current squad will do their utmost best to make a difference at this year’s Games. “After suffering postponements, we are all happy that the Olympic Games is going ahead this time. We are all looking forward to it with excitement.
With what I have seen in camp, athletes are motivated to represent and make our families and nation proud,” he said. “I want to enjoin Nigerians to support the team, these athletes are ready to give their best. “On a personal note, I am not putting any pressure on myself; I have always said that I will give my best at all times especially when I am representing the country.
Olympics is the biggest stage in sports and we are going to do our best.” Quadri reached the quarterfinal of the men’s singles of the table tennis event of the Rio Olympics, becoming the first African to achieve that. Wrestler Odunayo Adekuoroye is one of the medal hopefuls for the country at the Games and she also has another role to play after she was named Team Nigeria’s flagbearer. She is optimistic about the chances of the country at the Games and she has a target of hitting the podium after missing out last time.
“I’ve trained physically and mentally, I have trained myself. And my coach has been on me every time. Even the President (Daniel Igali) still comes to our training just to teach me some things. “So, having an Olympic champion (Daniel Igali) in my gym, having a world-class coach (Purity Akuh), and my training partners are doing brilliantly well.
So, I don’t have any pressure going to the Olympics. “I believe by the special grace of God, it’s my time to shine. So, I will definitely bring gold to Nigeria by His grace,” she said. Meanwhile, Enefiok Udo-Obong who is the most successful Nigerian Olympian after clinching a gold and bronze medal at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Games in men’s 4X400 metres relay respectively believes Nigeria’s track and field athletes can win medals this time around. “I think there is talent in this team; we can look forward to them winning one or two medals at the Games. It is a sad narration that we couldn’t do well at the last two editions or so but we have to be hopeful this time because of the performances of these current athletes,” he said. 61 athletes will represent the country in nine sports at the games.