Another opportunity begins today for Nigeria to yet again make a bold statement in global sports as the 30th Olympics will officially flag off in London Friday evening.
After Chioma Ajunwa won the first ever gold medal in the long jump, and the golden generation of Nigeria's footballers, led by Nwankwo Kanu, similarly added the Atlanta 1996 male soccer gold, the nation has been on the edge, waiting for another opportunity to troop out in our thousands to celebrate.
Of course, last week's formal re-awarding of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games to Team Nigeria after what seems an endless wait of 12 years may just be the pointer of what to expect from London, even as many are sneering already.
A trip down memory lane shows that it is when Team Nigeria is written off from making any meaningful impact that miracles do happen. Nobody gave Ajunwa the chance, not even the Dream Team that got beaten at the National Stadium in Lagos by Togo shortly before departing for Atlanta. Yet, these worthy lads shamed critics and returned home with the gold, the first time any African country will be making that feat. As for the 4x400m gold in Sydney, were we expecting to profit from America's dope problem?
Even that quartet of Clement Chukwu, Jude Monye, late Sunday Bada and Enefiok Udo-Obong was not given the chance. Bada was a weak link in the team as he was already facing retirement, haven’t achieve so much for self and country in the quarter mile. Udo-Obong was an inexperience lad then who got into the team by chance. But against all expectations, they went on to prove everyone wrong.
But the present generation of Blessing Okagbare and colleagues may not have done wonders in the prelude to this edition, yet that is not enough to write them off. Unlike four years ago when the rookie jumper picked a bronze in her very first outing at the Games, nobody is going to undermine her any more. Her performance in the circuit this season is enough to strike fears into the minds of other competitors.
That include, the Americans and Jamaicans whom she has dusted variously in two of the important legs of the IAAF Samsung Diamond League.
In wrestling, former Olympic gold medallist, Daniel Igali, has competed at the highest level and won laurels for his adopted country, Canada before returning home to take of the job of leading Nigerian wrestlers out of the wood. His summation midweek that he has his eyes on the next edition after London for the country to make any meaningful impact at the global stage could just be tongue in cheek talk.
The four wrestlers that qualified have all it takes to be on the podium here. Sinivie Boltic (-96kg), Andrew Adibo Dick (-84kg), female, Blessing Oborodudu (-63kg) and Amarachi Obiajunwa (-72kg) have all seen action at top levels and should not be sacred to challenge anyone for the stake.
Chika Chukwumerije is not new to the people he is going to take on in the -80kg category despite having the number three and four world ranked fighters as his opponents. If he narrowly missed the podium at Athens 2004 and made up at the last edition in Beijing, China with a bronze, who says the gold is far from his reach?
Same with his other colleague, Isah Mohammed, who is primed to battle in the 68kg category.
Jonathan Akinyemi may be the wide-eye kid coming in from the cold to battle for Nigeria in the Men's K-1 event, yet he remains committed and hopeful.
Nigeria may have missed golden opportunities in the past to win Olympic gold medals through the likes of Isaac Ikhuoria, Nojeem Mayeigun, Peter Konyegwachie, David Izonritei etc, the present lads know nobody is expecting anything from them but certainly will not be punching bags for their opponents.
Muideen Olalekan (middleweight), Lukman Lawal (light heavyweight) and the only female boxer in their midst, Edith Agu-Ogoke (middle) have already showed that they have the capacity to also stand tall when the history of this edition is been written. Same with the country's representatives in table tennis and weight lifting.
In terms of motivation, this generation have never had it so good in terms of training exposure and welfare. Thought many critics believe that Olympic preparation is not a six month thing but the entire four years from the last edition