*12 sure gold medals gone as usual like that
Like Blessing Okagbare in athletics, Maryam Usman remains the only poster girl in weightlifting. Driving through the streets of medals, even before she left the shores of Nigeria for the last Olympics in Brazil, Maryam Usman knew that winning a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics would be a tough call. She would not pretend to be a magician nor claim perfection where there is none. Usman believes one can only reap where one sows. For that sport, she knew inside her that we would not win anything.
Maryam Usman naturally disappointed during the women’s +75-kg weightlifting event of the London 2012 Olympics. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist in the +75kg in weightlifting lost the urge to represent Nigeria at international events.
Maryam was the only weightlifter that represented Nigeria in Rio. She competed in the +75 category and amassed 265 kg. She finished 8th in her group.
“It is painful to come to the Olympics and see people who are your contemporaries perform better than you; not because you lack the ability but because you were not prepared like them,” she said.
“For me, it is not just about jumping unto the plane every four years to go to the Olympics. Every athlete you see here wants to step on the podium. If you can’t aim to climb up there, you have no business coming to the Olympics. I can only consider going to another Olympics if things change for the better. But if the status quo is maintained, I don’t think I will go to another Olympics again.”
I recall the same athlete said training for the Rio Olympics was non-existent while her counterparts from other countries who are competing in Brazil have been training for three to four years.
“Olympic gold medal doesn’t come cheap. It is painful that one has to suffer and when competition comes they expect you to win a medal with your blood. The people you have to compete with had everything they needed: training grants, competitions and are exposed to the most modern equipment. I had nothing.
You don’t expect such people who have invested so much to lose to one who don’t even train adequately. That is when Nigerian officials will start to pray as if those who trained have no God.
The African champion said before the 2012 Olympics, she had better training than she did towards Rio. In 2017, the situation is worst.
In her words: “Yes, I feel 2012 was better. I had better training and my result was better. This time (for Rio) nothing was done to better one’s performance.”
After Rio, Maryam Usman took a walk away from the national team. Spurred by pressures from families, friends, associates and relations, she staged a comeback, trained hard and got back to her groove. Waiting to crown her efforts over the years with a sure set of three medals at the Commonwealth Games. She has been left at the junction by a rudderless leadership of her federation.
Between the four elite athletes (Chineye Fidelis (58kg), Oluwatoyin Adesanmi (63kg), Bilikis Otunla (75kg) and Maryam Usman (+90kg), 12 medals have been lost! All the training, night and day, of these athletes just goes down like that. All to no fault of theirs. nothing is more devastating than these. the silent pain lodges at the fact that these athletes work on their own meagre resources and are just made to lose everything in a jiffy all because one man, the President of the federation and his Board, are blank, clueless and can’t think outside the box.
Is this not the beginning of failure and disaster at the Games? Watch out for the emerging disaster. This is the situation when mechanics are recruited to come manage sports.