Life’s lessons from Rio Olympic and paralympic games 3

A sign Rio 2016 at the X-Park whitewater rafting venue in Deodoro, Rio de Janeiro, on August 4, 2016, ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA

A sign Rio 2016 at the X-Park whitewater rafting venue in Deodoro, Rio de Janeiro, on August 4, 2016, ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. / AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA


In life, there are many things that happen by accident but success is not one of them. There are many secrets to success in life but getting ready is the greatest of them all. Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favours only the prepared mind”. Many lives have been ruined by the philosophy of ‘chance’ and ‘luck’, not knowing that even chance favours only those that are prepared. Life has little to do with luck but more to do with preparation and strategic planning. The abysmal, shoddy and shabby performance of the Nigerian Olympic team in Rio at the Olympic Games was actually a fallout of poor preparation.

In fact, the Nigerian nation is full of history of poor preparation and inglorious performance. It was a sorry tale of national embarrassment to see the Nigerian athletes and team officials cladded in their track suits instead of the indigenous attire designed for the event. While other nations were brandishing their culture and heritage, Nigerian representatives sympathetically paraded themselves in outfits that carried no message to support or showcase the Nigerian culture. It is poignant to note that the attire eventually arrived only three days to the end of the global fiesta! In life, if you fail to prepare, then you are definitely preparing to fail. Failure is a result; it is a result of not preparing.

One of America’s legendary coaches, John Wooden, said, “When opportunity comes, it is too late to prepare.” Our penchant for shallow preparation has robbed us of priceless opportunities and limitless reach. While other nations were in Rio to win, it was so obvious that the Nigerian team was there to just dream about imaginary medals, just as their name suggests-dream team! The Nigerian delegates and representatives to the Rio Olympics fought and surmounted unimaginable obstacles to get to the Olympic venue, from the almost-ill-fated training camp, to the unpleasant eviction of the dream team out of the hotel they were lodging because they were owing about N73 million, and finally to the botched departure from Atlanta.

While funding was a major embarrassment before and during the Olympic Games, Katsuya Takasu, a Japanese plastic surgeon rewarded the Dream Team players with $10,000 dollars per player for the daunting performance and their resilience in winning a bronze medal despite stiff oppositions and obvious neglect by their fatherland.

Preparation may not guarantee a win, but it sure puts you in position for one – John C. Maxwell
Our lack of foresight and preparation has crippled not only sports but also our economy. The dwindling fortune of the nation is a pathetic result of our blatant impunity for preparation. We seldom wake up to responsibilities and actions until we are at the breaking point. Despite the abundance of talented and willing athletes in the nation, we have continually experienced a downward trajectory and free fall from the height of the 1996 Olympic glory in Atlanta. Nigeria was able to garner a total of six medals during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta: two gold medals, one silver and three bronze medals. It is appalling to note that 20 years after this feat, the record has seemingly become unbeatable.

In the Ancient Greek mythology, the story was told of how everything is achievable through adequate preparation. There was a boy who wished to be strong when he grew up, so strong that he would be able to lift a fully-grown bull. In order to realize his ambition, he started to train by lifting a bull calf daily from the day that it was born. Each day, he would lift the calf into his shoulders and carry it on the same defined circuit. As the bull calf grew, so also did his strength, until the day arrived when the bull was fully-grown and the boy had become a man. The man lifted the bull unto his shoulders and carried it around the circuit as he had everyday previously. The spectators were fully amazed at his strength but not the man or the bull, to them it was a daily routine and it had become a part of them! That is the power of preparation; it makes herculean tasks look casual.

“To be prepared is half the victory” – Miguel De Cervantes
Record-breaking athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are products of a well-coordinated system. One of the most fascinating stories of the importance of adequate preparation is that of the Williams sisters- Serena and Venus. The sisters’ path into professional tennis was plotted before their birth. Their father, Richard, loved to watch tennis on TV and dreamt he would one day watch his yet-to-be-born children on screen.

Venus and Serena’s glory in tennis started right from their mother’s womb! Venus was born on June 17, 1980 in Lynwood, California, and Serena on September 26, 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan. For six hours a day, they would play with tatty rackets and dud balls against a wall or imaginary opponents, while their father shouted the instructions from a tennis manual. The pair both began to compete before they were five. As young teenagers, Richard Williams withdrew his daughters from the junior circuit and turned them both professional, though too young to compete in world tennis association events, the teenagers played in private events and their games improved dramatically.

The top ranking Williams sisters have stunned the tennis world with their fast serves and strong returns that exhaust even indomitable opponents on the court. In the history of tennis, no two sisters have dominated and commonised the grand slam titles like the William Sisters. The greatest truth about preparation is that it can NEVER be too early but it can be too late. Every sustainable and successful ministry, relationship, business and manifestation is traceable to the level of its preparation. The whole world will never forget in a hurry the sisters that brought so much glamour, fun and fashion to the tennis court. The face of tennis has changed forever because of two indomitable sisters.

“What wise men do in the beginning, fools do in the end” – Warren Buffet
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has called on authorities in charge of Nigerian sports to begin early preparation for the next Olympic Games in Tokyo (2020) in order to avoid recurring embarrassment and manage anticipatory challenges. There is no doubt that adequate preparation and provision is a good recipe for success. Just few days before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, the Jamaican government reconstituted its Olympic committee for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; imagine a country preparing for the next Olympic Games while the current one is still on-going.

South Africa and Kenya are always blazing the trail for Africa in Olympic Games simply because of adequate planning. I would like to specially reach out to the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, to reconstitute the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC), restructure the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and put in place the necessary provision for the next Olympic Games in 2020, so as to avoid all this national embarrassment. Our ‘last minute’ attitude is affecting the image of the nation in the global world. Olympics preparation doesn’t take months; it takes years of painstaking planning.

“It is better to prepare than to repair” – John C. Maxwell
Malcolm X said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today”. I would also want to reach out generally to Nigerian youths to prepare adequately for the future. We are the hope for the future and we must be adequately trained and equipped to take this nation to the next level. Preparation precedes manifestation; if you want to stay ahead, then you must cultivate the winning habit of preparing ahead. We must never celebrate mediocrity or settle for less. We cannot feature in a future that we cannot picture.

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Paralympic GamesRio Olympic
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