The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, has assured sports loving Nigerians and the public at large that Team Nigeria for the Rio Olympics will do Nigeria proud and win medals for the country at the forthcoming sporting fiesta.
Dalung gave this assurance while exchanging views with some reporters who called in his office for his view on Nigeria’s preparation for the Rio 2016 and prospects for winning medals at the event.
Dalung decried some misinformation, inaccurate and arm chair reporting in the social media on the country’s preparation, a development he described as very demoralising to Nigerian athletes, who he said are training rigorously, sacrificing leisure and time in order to do the country proud.
Dalung appealed to journalists, commentators and Nigerians at large to show positive attitudes to Nigerians’ capabilities and can-do-spirit.
He said: “We should be optimistic about our country and believe in ourselves. “It takes positive thinking to see water in a cup as half-full rather than half-empty.
“A child nicknamed Prince or Princess, Champion and Hero by parents is bound to excel than the one who is always
written off or put down as idiot, irritant or never-do-well.
“No nation will rate us better than we rate ourselves.”
The Minister also explained that qualified athletes are elite athletes who follow strict training schedules, adding:
“The phase we are in now for them is largely to participate in competitions in order to test their strength and skills acquired.
“It is therefore not correct to say that our athletes are not training.”
Dalung also debunked insinuations that Nigeria’s athletes cannot win medals because they are training locally, explaining that most of the sportsmen and women that won medals for Nigeria in the past Olympics trained locally.
He pointed out that world-beater athletes dominating the long distances in African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya also train locally.
On welfare, Dalung explained that right from the time athletes enter camp, the right diets as recommended by consultant dieticians are provided and their health needs promptly attended to by qualified Sports Medicine Doctors and other specialists till they safely return to their bases, adding that government always shoulders any responsibility arising from health challenges, including treatment of injury.
The Minister commended Federations that are rising to the current challenge by mobilising resources outside government grants to organise training tours and competitions for their athletes, saying this is the standard practice in all developed countries that are doing well in sports today because government alone cannot fund sports.
Dalung reiterated the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria’s flag will fly alongside those of other countries in the Olympic family and that the Government is seriously looking at the Ministry’s request for additional fund to ensure that the country has a glorious outing at the fiesta.
The Minister urged Nigerians to support and pray for the athletes, saying this will further boost their morale, strengthen their resolve and determination to excel.