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Nigeria’s shameful outing in London 2017

The performance (or is it lack of it) of Nigerian athletes at the London World Athletics championships has further demonstrated the decay in our sports sector. For some time now, the attention of most sports commentators in Nigeria has been on football .The reason is simple. What is there to talk about in other sports? There appears to be an extinction of both administrators and athletes. It is said that one may not know the value of what he has until he loses it. Who even knows the names of those in charge of our sports these days? The state of Nigerian sports is pathetic, in complete comatose and in need of bailout. Unfortunately those at the helm of affairs are moving on as if it is not their concern.

   Nigeria used to boast of top sports administrators like Abraham Ordia, Isaac Akioye, Jerry Enyeazu, Babayo Shehu, Aweture Eleya and Victor Anyakudo. In athletics A K Amu, Majekudumi, Fireman stood out. Football had charismatic leaders in Kentebe, Sunday Dankaro, Chuba Ikpeazu, Air Comdr Tony Ikhazobor, Effiong Okon, Air Comdr Emeka Omeruah, Abdulmumuni  Aminu to mention but a few. Late Patrick Okpomo, POC Achebe and Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima were among the known technocrats.

   In Tennis, Engr Segun Joseph, Alhaji Lateef Adejumo and Chuka Momoh stood out, so also was Rev. Moses Illo in Cycling and late Brai Ayonote in Boxing. We had men of vision like that in almost all the sports.

  Equally remarkable are the modern era of the likes of Amos Adamu, Sani Toro, Patrick Ekeji, Tijani Yusuf, Solomon Ogba, Dan Ngerem, Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Abba Yola, Alhassan Yakmut, and Steve Olarinoye. No matter what anybody says about these technocrats, Nigerian sports blossomed under their supervision. But they were always painted with the brush of corruption. But recent revelations in other sectors have made saints of these noble men. 

   The history of these men and women of the golden era of our sports cannot be complete without mentioning the athletes who put Nigeria’s name in world Athletics map: Sunday Uti, Moses Ugbusien, Rotimi Peters, Innocent Egbunike (1984 Olympics medalists). Chidi Imoh, Adeniken Olapade, Oluyemi Kayode, Beatrice Utondu , Mary Onyali, the Ezinwa brothers, Christy Opara-Thompson and Faith Idehen (1992 Olympic medalists). The golden girl Chioma Ajunwa, Olabisi Afolabi, FatimaYusuf, Charity Opara, Falilat Ogunkoya, Mary Onyali(1996). Sunday Bada, Jude Monye, Enefiok Udo-obong, Glory Alozie (2000 Olympics medalists). Olusoji Fasuba, Uchenna Emedolu, Aaron Egbele, Deji Aliu, James Godday, Musa Audu, Saul Weigopwa, Enefiok Udo-Obong(2004 Olympic medalists). Blessing Okagbare(2008 Olympic Medalist). How can we forget the exploits of the likes of Yusuf Ali, Henry Amike, Gabriel Okon and the rest? How has the mighty fallen? So shameful.


Sports science, an emerging trend in sports performance – Anugweje

Since 1884 when the Queensbury rules were enacted in boxing marking the birth of that sport as it is today, the punches have remained the same: a jab has always been a jab; a left hook has not changed, and the uppercut is still the same. In Judo, the ne-waza has not changed neither has the Tachiwaza; In the racquet games, the forehand and backhand strokes are still played the same way, and in Athletics, sprinting, running, hurdling are still the same. Even with its new name of triple jump, the procedure is still the hop, step and jump. Coaching programmes incorporate all the techniques mentioned above during practice sessions. However technological advancements have also raised performance level. Starting blocks, spiked running shoes, fibre glass poles (for vaulting), aerodynamic javelins and highly streamlined swim suits, the treadmill and such other equipment are all freely available for those who can afford them.

If we agree that techniques in sports have undergone little or no change, and that sophisticated equipment that could enhance performance are affordable, this then raises the question: why do some athletes perform better than others? What are the explanations that some nations dominate certain sporting events? In Nigeria today, the answers are usually some of the following: our coaches are not good; our administrators are killing sports; government is neglecting sports. There is no doubt that these may not be untrue, but they tend to ignore the core issues we have continued to disregard: the very massive strides that scientists have made in various aspects of human endeavour, especially in sports.

Scientific research has grown so remarkably  in the last 50years that scientists from different countries compete to  outdo each other in making discoveries that are relevant in high sports performance. This competition is encouraged by the International Olympic Committee, (IOC) which in conjunction with Pfizer, awards the IOC Olympic Prize( Olympic medal, a certificate of excellence and US$500,000 cash award) every two years to a scientist for contributions that advance the science related to movement, exercise and sport that make a great impact on society. With this kind of incentive, Human Performance Laboratories in many parts of the world are hectic all year round.

What is our situation here? Our athletes, their trainers and their Federations probably out of lack of information, have failed to acknowledge the input of doctors, exercise physiologists and others who have been trained in the Science of Sports, thereby reducing such doctors to “come-and-treat-me” personnel.

Sports science fundamentally represents the application of scientific principles to exercise and sports with the ultimate aim of improving performance.

It has also been utilized in the field of wellness. It involves the study of anatomy, exercise-physiology, biochemistry, kinesiology, biomechanics, psychology, nutrition, performance analysis and injury prevention and management, in connection with the response of the body to physical activity especially during exercise. The final goal of sports science is high performance: performance which is consistent and superior to the average.  This series as from next week will examine the application and impact of sports science on the performance of contemporary athletes.

  Professor Ken Anugweje is a professor of Sports Science and Medicine at the University of Port-Harcourt. He comes with the full dose from next week.

•Till next week, keep attacking.

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