Nigeria will be ready for 2020 Olympics, says Ekong
Nigeria will not feature in the golf event of this year’s Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, not because the country lacks the players for the competition. The simple reason is that the qualifying system for the event makes it impossible for most African countries to field athletes for the vent at the Olympics.
To qualify for both the men’s and women’s golf event, the top 15 world-ranked players will be eligible for the Olympic Games, regardless of the number of players from a given country. Beyond the top 15, players will be eligible based on world ranking, with a maximum of two available players from each country that does not already have two or more players among the top 15 to a maximum number of 60 players in total in the competition.
During the last Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) annual general meeting at the Yankari Games Reserve, Bauchi, president of the Nigeria Golf Federation (NGF), Nazifi Mohammed, had lamented the effect of the eligibility rule on Nigerian players, saying it was unfair to the country’s many talented players. But that is as far as the lamentations go. Right now, the NGF has decided to take a proactive measure by ensuring that such rules do not limit the country’s ability to compete with the best in the world.
NGF Youth Development Officer, Emy Ekong, yesterday told The Guardian that the country has learnt its lessons and has started making moves that will see it in the 2020 Games.
She said, “we have players capable of holding their own against anybody in the world, but they lack the resources to travel to the major championships, which determines the ranking of the stars.
“So, the challenge is in getting the players to feature in more prominent competitions around the world. That is where the corporate bodies and government come in. They need sponsorship to be able to attend these international competitions that count.
“I can tell you that Andrew Oche Odeh, Kingsley Oparaku, Mike Ubi, Sunday Olopade and Oyebanji can hold their own against the best in the world if they get the opportunity.”
The 2020 Olympics is still four years away, but Ekong believes the country has a crop of young players who could also compete positively with the world’s best at the Tokyo Games.
She said: “Our youths are doing extremely well and I can tell you that in Georgia Oboh, Anita Uwadiae, Tokunbo Pedro, Godsmark Isife and Alechenu Odeh, among others, we have boys who will be ready to join the seniors in four years time.”
She disclosed that Nigeria is currently gearing up for the World Amateur Championship, which holds next month and the Junior Masters scheduled for Las Vegas, U.S. in August.