Our under-17 lads deserve a million full-throated guffaws for conquering the world the fifth time in soccer at their age level. Please sustain the applause and rub it a bit on President Muhammadu Buhari for always enjoying good luck in sports contests. He christened them Golden Eaglets in 1985 when Sebastian Imasuen-Brodericks took the first squad led by Nduka Ugbade to China for the competition.
The year before then, under Buhari, was epoch-making for Nigerian sports when for the first time after 32 years in our Olympic quest Nigeria won the first medal in the 440×4 metres relay anchored by Innocent Egbunike. Although a bronze, it was our first ever in field and track, though in boxing Nojeem Maiyegun and Isaac Ikhuoria battled odds to earn for us a silver and bronze, which ought to be gold but for sports politics, in 1968 and 1972 respectively. And boxing today is in distress here. We had near misses before that 1984 bronze in athletics. My vivid memories record Dr. Peter Ogan, the flat jumper, narrowly placing fourth in the triple jump in 1960. Karim Olowu formerly of King’s College, also narrowly lost the third place in their last leap in the long jump in 1952 to place fourth. Owen Okundaye was the only pole vaulter Nigerian ever sent to Olympics in 1960. Sunday Akpata featured then in long and triple jumps. In our first outing the “Flying Salesman”, Ajado and Titus Erinle got to the semi-finals in the 100 metres sprint. We sent four high jumpers to the Olympics in that our first participation and they placed within the first 10 in the event. Nafiu Bello-Osagie and Omoruyi Odobo, classmates at Eweka Memorial School and Western Boys’ High School, Benin, of the four, are still alive. B.A.A. Guobadia, ex of Baptist Academy, Lagos, and UAC Athletic Club and Joseph Majekodunmi, of Abeokuta Grammar School, of the four, have passed on to eternity unheralded by the press. Nigerians celebrated sports from the 1940s to the 1990s before they were slapped in the face by an uncaring leadership that destroyed everything in its track.Follow Us on Social Media