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Orji Kalu harps on early preparations to excel in sporting competitions

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The Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Orji Kalu, has urged Nigerian athletes and sports federations to ensure early preparations in order to win medal in international competitions.

Kalu, who made the call in an interview with our reporter in Abuja, expressed worry that Nigeria’s football team failed to feature in the just concluded 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He stressed the need for sports administrators to go back to the drawing board with a view to addressing some of the challenges confronting the sports sector.

According to him, if you want to be in the field of sports you have to work hard.

“It was shameful that Nigeria didn’t participate in football in the last Olympics and the country lost economically.

“This is because that is where you showcase these athletes to be engaged by foreign teams, where they make money for themselves and for their parents as well as the country.

“So, I was very worried that our soccer team didn’t make it to the Olympics.

“I hope that will not be repeated in the World Cup and the next Olympics.

“I want the Federal Government to start early preparations because it is going to help the country excel,” Kalu said.

The former governor of Abia, however, saluted the team for their efforts and urged them to use the lessons learnt from the Tokyo Olympics in future competitions.

Nigeria finished 74th on the medal table, 8th in Africa after more than a fortnight of intriguing sporting events.

The 32nd Olympics saw Nigeria add two medals to her modest haul at the games.

The silver won by Blessing Oborududu in wrestling and the bronze secured by Ese Brume in long jump took Nigeria’s Olympics medal tally to 27.

Although issues of administrative laxity affected the performances of Team Nigeria in Tokyo, some of the athletes punched through the logjam to show flashes of their brilliance.

21-year-old Enoch Adegoke became the first Nigerian to qualify for the men’s 100 meters final in 25 years and 17-year-old Abiola Ogunbanwo broke the national record in swimming when she posted 59.74 seconds in the women’s 100m freestyle in the swimming event.

However, the big guns failed to live up to the hype that heralded them into the competition.

It began with Blessing Okagbare’s suspension after she tested positive for human growth hormone.

The ouster of Aruna Quadri in the third round of the men’s singles of the table tennis event was also a shocker, followed by the pinfall loss of Odunayo Adekuruoye in her first bout in Tokyo.

Ikenna Uwadileke

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