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Olympics: Why Africa fell by the wayside by Tolu Ogunlesi*


Nigeria, an unrepentantly heavy trader in the stock market of optimism, went to London the way it likes to travel to global engagements (be they sporting events or climate change summits) — eschewing serious preparation, expecting the best, and inevitably attracting the worst, which actually varies in degree depending on the amount of good luck in the air.

In the end, the opening ceremony march-past turned out to be the high point of our London 2012 performance. From a tally of four medals in Beijing (1 silver and 3 bronze) we dropped into medal-less oblivion in London.

As with Nigeria, so has it been with Ghana (Ghana’s last Olympic medal was its Barcelona 1992 bronze in the men’s soccer event).

Kenya, with a much better Olympic record, has also disappointed in London. The east African country, 13th on the medals table four years ago, with a total of 14 medals, all in long-distance athletics (six of which were golds), dropped to 28th place in London, with 11 medals (only two of which were golds).

From the tales of woe filtering out from the various national camps one might be forgiven for assuming it’s the same set of officials managing the Nigerians, Ghanaians and the Kenyans.

Cameroon’s problems are of a slightly different nature — seven of its athletes vanished from camp two weeks into the Games, presumably envisaging brighter prospects as asylum-seekers than as home-bound Olympians.

*the article has more to do with Nigeria than Africa as a whole, imho.

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