President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, Habu Gumel, has charged Team Nigeria athletes to the ongoing XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia to go all out for gold to ensure that win the country’s largest medal haul in the competition.
Nigeria won 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze medals totaling 36 medals at the last Games in Glasgow Scotland four years ago. It was a near-perfect performance only close to the country’s best record set in 1994 Games in Victoria, Canada The team garnered 11 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze medals then.
“This is a clarion call to all athletes representing Nigeria at this Games to go for gold. We know that you have what it takes to win gold for our country. The government has been most supportive to you and this is the time for you to show appreciation,” Gumel, an executive committee member of International Olympic Committee (IOC) told the athletes as competition began in earnest yesterday.
Also speaking to the athletes, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, emphasised the need for discipline and for clean medals as Nigeria would not tolerate medals that are tainted with dope.
“The federal government will appreciate your honest efforts in bringing in medals but the medals must be pure. Its better we post a decent performance without medals than to bring in shame to our country through tainted medals,” Dalung warned the athletes.
Meanwhile, Nigerian table tennis players began their campaign in the Men’s Team – Group 4 on a bright note yesterday. Despite the absence of Aruna Quadri and Segun Toriola, the trio of Bode Abiodun, Olajide Omotayo and Jamiu Azeez lived up to expectations by topping Group D ahead of Belize and Malaysia.
The Nigerians won the first two matches; Olajide Omotayo beat Chee Feng Leong (13-11, 15-13, 11-7), before Bode Abiodun accounted for Muhammed Ashraf Haiq Muhamad Rizal (11-5, 11-7, 13-11).
However, Chee Feng Leong and Javen Choong combined to secure the doubles; they accounted for Azeez Jamiu and Olajide Omotayo (11-4, 11-9, 11-7).
Suddenly, there was a degree of pressure on Azeez Jamiu playing in his first Commonwealth Games; he responded, he won but it was tense. He needed the full five games to beat Muhammed Ashraf Haiq Muhamad Rizal (11-7, 9-11, 11.6, 7-11, 11-8).
“We lost the doubles, we never practise. I thought we would win, I never expected that I would need to play singles, I wasn’t prepared, I just kept fighting, serve short and be the first to attack.” Azeez Jamiu noted after the match thursday.