African Games’ second position not the best for Nigeria, says Yakmut
Team awaits presidential reception
The Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Al-Hassan Yakmut, has declared that second position at the just concluded 11th African Games in Congo Brazzaville is not the best for the nation’s sports.
Four years ago in Maputo, Team Nigeria surmounted many obstacles to place third overall behind South Africa and Egypt at the end of the 10th All Africa Games.
The excuse put forward then was that the host country, Mozambique, played politics by excluding sports like weightlifting and wrestling, which are considered as Nigeria’s traditional areas of strength. Another issue raised by the athletes, coaches and administrators then for the third position finishing at Maputo 2011 was that Team Nigeria also lost ground in table tennis and other combat sports.
But Team Nigeria was able to take a step further in Congo, beating South Africa to the second position after winning 47 gold medals as against 42 for the Nelson Mandela country.
Reflecting on the outing in Congo, Yakmut says finishing second behind Egypt was not the best, adding, “The Presidency actually wanted Team Nigeria to finish on top of the medal’s table.”
Yakmut told The Guardian on return from Brazzaville that, “it is not right to say that by finishing second, we met the target set by The Presidency. Nigeria deserves to be Africa’s best and that is what we must have at the back of our minds.”
Nigeria hosted the eighth edition of the Games in Abuja in 2003, placing second behind Egypt on top of the medal’s table. The Egyptians had beaten Nigeria to the top spot during the second edition of the Games hosted in Lagos in 1973, just as Team Nigeria lost the first spot to host, South Africa, at Jo’burg ’99 edition.
Eight years ago in Algeria (2007), Nigeria recorded one of its worst outings in the Games by placing fifth overall, but climbed to third position at the last edition in Maputo 2011, gathering 31 gold, 28 silver and 39 bronze medals. Then, Team Nigeria lost the second place to Egypt by just a gold medal.
Yakmut said that henceforth, Team Nigeria would pay attention to other multimedal sports such as swimming and fencing, adding that traditional events like weightlifting, athletics, boxing and wresting will also receive government attention.
Meanwhile, the NSC is said to be waiting for the Presidency on its request to host athletes and officials of Team Nigeria to the just concluded games in Congo.