- Swimming, Canoe Slalom added to sports Nigeria to compete for medals
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) has narrowed down the choice of the captain of Team Nigeria for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to basketball star, Olumide Oyedeji and super sprinter, Blessing Okagbare-Ighotegunor.
THISDAY scooped last night that though no formal decision has been made about who should be made the team captain, the choice is a straight bout between Oyedeji and Okagbare.
The team captain will lead the Nigerian contingent and carry the national flag at the opening ceremony in Rio on August 5.
Oyedeji has unmatched experience with the basketball team which he led to the last Olympics at London 2012 on top of record making Afrobasket triumph in Tunisia last year.
Officials claimed he is already cut for the role considering he was the Nigerian team captain to the last All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville last year.
Okagbare’s effervescent individual accomplishments also make her a candidate that cannot be ignored.
The sprinter, who will represent Nigeria in women 100 metres, long jump and women 4×100 metres relay, qualified for the 100 metres final at London 2010 and won a silver medal in Long Jump at the World Athletics Championship in Moscow in 2013.
She remains one of Nigeria’s biggest attractions at Rio2016 in view of her glittering record in the majors and world circuit.
The NOC, which will formally hand over the Nigerian team to President Muhammadu Buhari on July 19, has confirmed that Nigeria will now compete in nine official sports, instead of seven earlier reported.
NOC Secretary General, Tunde Popoola, said that Swimming and Slalom Canoeing have been added as the events Nigeria will participate in addition to football, basketball, boxing, athletics, wresting, weightlifting and table tennis where they fulfilled qualifying requirements.
Nigeria featured in canoeing at London 2012 and now intends to be in Brazil with two swimmers on the special invitation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Popoola told THISDAY that IOC made it mandatory for Nigeria to feature two swimmers under the “Universality Places” designed to ensure that all countries are represented to make swimming a truly world event.
“We will now include two swimmers at Rio 2016 under the universality places arrangement. It is not a wildcard, rather they asked us to bring two male swimmers who will be sponsored at their own cost,” Popoola concluded.