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Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has dispatched the country’s Olympic delegation to Tokyo, Japan, and has urged Nigerians to pray for and support the group.
The send-off ceremony for Team Nigeria to the Olympic Games was held on Monday, July 12, 2021, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, and Osinbajo urged the Nigerian contingent to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to remember that they are standing “on the shoulders of giants” as they prepare to leave Nigeria.
Recalling the exploits of past Nigerian teams to previous Olympics, Osinbajo said “you will also carry with you the encouragement of the great exploits of Nigerian Olympians before you.”
Osinbajo reminded the team of “such legends as Chioma Ajunwa who won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics for the long jump and became the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a field event.
“The U-23 Eagles in 1996 who won the gold medal for football; that was the team that had the greats; Augustine Okocha, Celestine Babayaro, Daniel Amokachi (who was present at the event,) Sunday Oliseh, Taribo West, Kanu Nwankwo, Abiodun Obafemi, Emmanuel Amuneke, Emmanuel Babayaro, Garba Lawal, Joseph Dosu, Kingsley Obiekwu, Mobi Obaraku, Uche Okechukwu, Teslim Fatusi, Tijani Babangida, Victor Ikpeba, and Wilson Oruma —that was the year we defeated the world’s best footballing nations – Brazil and Argentina and we all held our heads high.”
He added that “in 2000, in Sydney, we beat the best in the world, we won the gold in 4×400 meter relay after the American team was disqualified for using performance-enhancing drugs.
“Our team then was Clement Chukwu, the late Sunday Bada, Enefiok Udo-Ubong, Jude Monye, and two other members of the team, Fidelis Gadzama and Nduka Awazie.
“And for anyone who thinks we are joking, maybe they haven’t seen our exhibition basketball game on Saturday with the USA team, especially that amazing block by Precious Achiuwa against KD – Kevin Durant, who is probably the best player in the NBA right now. So Precious, you are the real MVP!
“You stand on the shoulders of giants and with the quality and intensity of training you have received and your exploits during the qualification series for the Olympic Games, I am confident that by God’s grace, you will again make history and beat the best in the world.”
Urging the team to promote the Olympian ideals, Osinbajo said “Olympics is about fair play, honesty, teamwork, respect, and friendship. I trust that you will, as worthy ambassadors of Nigeria, represent our nation excellently.
“Fair play clearly enjoins every athlete not to use any prohibited substances or to cheat in any way. Half of the joy and satisfaction of victory is that it was won fairly.
“Every one of you participating in the games is opening a page in history for yourself, your families, your community, and the nation.”
The event also marked the formal handover of the Nigerian contingent to the Nigeria Olympic Committee and the unveiling of the team’s official outfit and kit.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, in his own remarks, said the athletes are ready to do the country proud.
“I am happy to announce today that the complete kit for Team Nigeria to the Tokyo 2020 Games was produced with a heavy dose of local content.
“We thank AFA Sports (Africa For Africa), a local sports equipment manufacturing company for delivering on the production of uniforms for Team Nigeria.
“This is a veritable testament and commitment of the Buhari administration to support and grow local content and industry in all sectors of the Nigerian economy,” Dare said.
The Tokyo Olympics begins on Friday, July 23, 2021 and ends on August 8.