FROT Group boss begins ‘Operation Medal Rush’ for Tokyo 2020 Olympics
• Set For Revival Of Principal Cup In Edo State
Frontline sports philanthropist and chairman of FROT Group, Frank Momoh believes the time for Team Nigeria to begin preparations for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is now.
At the last Olympics held in Rio, Brazil, Team Nigeria returned with just one bronze medal won by the coach Samson Siasia-led football team, a performance many Nigerians see as ‘poor.’
Instead of crying over spilled milk, Momoh promised to provide necessary assistance for Nigerian athletes to turn the situation around for good in Tokyo 2020.
Among other things, Momoh singled out one of Nigeria’s promising athletes, long jumper, Ese Brume to be part of his ‘Operation Medals Rush’ for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Brume, who graduated from junior cadre to the senior team three years ago during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, where she won the long jump gold medal, was again the cynosure of all eyes at the Rio Olympics, finishing 5th in the women’s long jump final. She was Nigeria’s only individual athlete to reach the final in Rio. At a time everything had fallen apart for Team Nigeria in track and field, Brume came with a big surprise, jumping her personal best mark of 6.81m to challenge for a medal, though it was not enough to get her on the podium.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is three years away, the FROT Group boss says winning medals at the Games require long time planning.
“Our athletes always find it difficult to win medals at the Olympics because of inadequate preparations,” Momoh told The Guardian during the week in Lagos. “I feel we should change the situation this time as we look forward to Tokyo 2020. This idea of waiting for government money before commencing preparation for the Olympics has done so much havoc to our athletes in the past.
“The result of our participation at Rio 2016 Olympics was so embarrassing. I have decided to play a part in building of Team Nigeria for Tokyo 2020. I have had meeting with Ese Brume and her coach concerning her training programmes ahead of the Games,” Momoh said.
Part of the things Brume needs to prepare herself for Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a well equip gymnasium, funding for IAAF sanctioned competitions, among others.
Perhaps, since the death of the Pillar of Sports in Africa, Bashorun MKO Abiola in July 1998, the nation’s sport has never been the same in terms of support from individuals.
However, the emergence of Frank Momoh into the sports scene has brought a great turn around for some athletes, coaches and team officials.
Unlike some individuals who occasionally provide assistance to sporting associations just to attend competitions, and for political gains too, the financial support from Momoh has flown into various sporting federations, including table tennis, wheelchair basketball, football and athletics. He is also a major player in the Arts industry.
Momoh was the only Nigerian to provide financial assistance to a member of the Nigeria table tennis team, Aruna Quadri during his preparation for the Rio Olympic Games. Quadri made history in Rio by beating his world-rated German opponent, Boll Timo, 4-2 to seal a historic berth in the quarterfinals of men’s single table tennis event, the first African to reach that level at the Games.
Momoh also rolled out a red carpet for Quadri, Segun Toriola, Funke Oshonaike and other members of the table tennis team on their arrival from the Rio Olympics. At that welcome dinner held at Wheatbaker hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, the FROT Group boss doled out N1m to Quadri, N500,000 for Toriola, while Funke Oshonaike and other members of the team got N1 million.
Two days later, Momoh gave Ese Brume and her coach, Yahaya, the sum of N200,000, as a way of encouraging the long jumper for the performance at the Rio Olympics.
Momoh is getting the reward for his gesture. Few weeks ago, he was voted the Outstanding Sports Personality of the Year Award at a ceremony organized by Edo Football Association in Benin City.
For the past three years, Momoh has been the sole sponsor of the annual Edo FA Cup competition. He was at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City for the final between Ineh Stars and Dynamite Force. Also present at that occasion was the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.
Momoh told The Guardia that apart from channeling his resources on ‘Operation Medal Rush’ for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, he had put machineries in place towards the revival of Principal Cup competition in Edo State.
“I am waiting for the schedules from Edo FA Chairman, Mr. Frank Ilaboya regarding my plans to reviving Principal Cup in Edo State,” he said. “We will set up a committee that will be made up of ex-players, especially those who played in the national teams. We will also involve players who made the Principal Cup competition so exciting in the good old day. I am talking of ex-players like Baldwin Bazuaye because the committee will need to tap from their experience.
“Sports will bounce back in Edo State because Governor Godwin Obaseki has demonstrated that he is a true sports lover. The Principal Cup was once the nursery of talented athletes for the country, and reviving it will be a big turn around for football in the state.”
On his Outstanding Sports Personality of the Year Award, Momoh said: “It means our efforts is being appreciated. It will also encourage other individuals and corporate organisations to play a role in promoting sports in Nigeria.”