By Kunle Adewale
Against the backdrop of doubts by Nigerians on their athletes to do well at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio, the General Manager SuperSports, Felix Awogu, is however not losing sleep over Team Nigeria; saying they might just surprise a lot of people.
In a chat in his office, he said, “A lot of people said we failed in London. I am one of those that think we didn’t fail. If you look at the team, most of our athletes finished in the semi-finals. They didn’t win medals but I see a lot of progression, what could happen is transcending from that semi-final finish into the medal zone this year. If you look at Atlanta ’96, we didn’t expect any medal in football even after losing to Togo here in the last friendly. We still went ahead to win.
“We are a team, a country that likes to spring surprises. Wrestling is doing pretty well. Two of our wrestlers, the female ones, are actually in the top three in the world so why not give them a chance? Athletics we may have a few issues but I think we should look at relay and if I were the managers of Blessing Okagbare, I will tell her to focus on the jumps because that is the area where she has the advantage. Here, we are pushing her into athletics, 100 metres, 200 metres, relay, I hope she doesn’t burn out. Sometimes, you need to sit down and look at your structure and look at where you have comparative advantage and stick to it, “Awogu said.
Continuing he said: “I heard the minister saying that Nigeria is expecting four gold medals. To me, that will be a great record. I have a feeling we will not come back empty handed like we did in London. The lifters always have ways of springing surprises. Okagbare, I hope will also be able to do us proud. We will be paying special focus on the football team because Nigeria is technically a football country and I hope this year’s selected team will do us proud and move ahead from the last qualification in the finals where they won silver, and probably win us gold. It has been a long time since ’96.”
Awogu said in keeping with tradition, SuperSports is to deliver the best quality content. “We are covering virtually everything and we have a couple of dedicated channels, which will be beaming those events live to our audience. The beautiful thing about us is that we are also going ahead with technology because of the timing, which is probably not very convenient with most people. We have the catch up facility, which MultiChoice has provided and customers can always catch up when they wake up in the morning especially to watch the performance of the Nigerian team,” he said.
Awogu said SuperSports is sending a full team that will be covering the competition in spite of Zika virus scare. “I know a lot of people would be wondering how we will manage with the Zika scare and it is a major constraint. Even though some athletes are pulling out, we just need to prepare ourselves, take preventive measures and go there to do a quality job. I am sure the Brazilian government would do whatever they can to safeguard participating Olympic athletes and visitors to the games, including the journalists. We have a team following the Nigerian team, especially the football and athletic teams, just like we do with some of these well-established athletes. There will be a couple of magazine shows in place for subscribers apart from the daily highlights. It will be quite innovative,” Awogu assured.