*Gets International appointment
President of the Wrestling Federation of Nigeria, Hon Daniel Igali, has warned the Federal Government to not on begin preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics now but also invest more in sports if the country wants to excel in the sector in 2017.
Igali who is the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), identified the problems with Nigerian sports was funding, time management and shoddy preparations towards major tournaments.
“I have always made it clear that the problem is that we don’t prepare well, it is not that we don’t prepare at all but we have not been doing it the right way. Apart from this, our funding system is skewed against becoming a world leader in sports” he said.
Asked what needs to be done if we must move forward the former Canadian Olympic gold medallist said, “going forward, what we need to do is to prepare better for championships, we don’t have to wait until the weeks preceding tournaments to start looking for the funds. Two, we need to ensure that athletes have access to things like modern and adequate facilities, right nutrition, conducive accommodation, medical, most importantly they have competent coaches.
“They must also be exposed to regular international competitions. Let us have focus lines and pursue those objectives by not deceiving ourselves, without international tournaments you cannot get the best out of an athlete and I always make myself as an example.
He added, “in 1996, I was identified as one of the prospects for 2000 Olympics and a programme was mapped out for me to have about 215 fights between 1996 and 2000, and that was what we did and we achieved it.
“When athletes have such experience, they will surely achieve success. But attending competitions is not cheap; we have to ensure that we don’t look at the funds because it is not going to be easy.
We need to be serious in sports as a country. He said with proper preparations from the beginning of 2017, Nigerian athletes should be able to win medals at the 2020 Olympic Games.
He added: “In the 2017 budget presented to the House of Representatives recently, sports was not substantially mentioned, it shows us the place of the sector in the country, it is not in our dictionary.
“For us to achieve success and win medals at the 2020 Olympic Games, we must start now and prepare well. We must also put our people in international bodies. With where we are now, 2020 Olympic Games will be a starting point if we are ready to sacrifice, we can get between three and five medals in Tokyo and then in 2024 it will increase and so on like that.”
Igali who recently got appointed as a member of the Technical Commission of the International Wrestling Federation (United World Wrestling) has a three year tenure from 2017 through to 2020.