On Wednesday March 20th, 2019, the Nigerian Olympic Committee announced the list of Team Nigeria athletes granted an Olympic scholarship for the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics. Out of 11 athletes selected from different sports, The trio of; Sprint Hurdles sensation & Commonwealth champion, Tobi Amusan, Glory Nathaniel and Samson Nathaniel were listed as beneficiaries from Track and Field.
We recall that prior to the Rio Olympics in 2016, the likes of Blessing Okagbare, Divine Oduduru, Ese Brume were among the 12 recipients of the IOC Scholarship.
Tobi Amusan is the reigning African and Commonwealth Games champion over the 100m hurdles. The National Sports Festival Record holder in the discipline is also a finalist from the 2017 World Championships in London and also a finalist at the 2018 IAAF Diamond League 100mh final.
Glory Nathaniel won the Gold in the 400mh at the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships. The Tai Solarin University graduate also represented Nigeria at the 2017 World Championships where she bowed pout in the Semifinal while reaching the final at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
Her brother, Samson, competed at the 2018 African Senior Athletics Champs were he got to the semis of the 400m. He was also at the 2017 World Champs with his sister, Glory. Samson represented Nigeria at the 2014 World Juniors in Oregon, and then the 2015 All African Games in Congo Brazzaville where he got to the semis. Glory on the other hand was at the 2015 African Junior Championships and won a Bronze medal in the 400m Hurdles
Reacting to this development, NOC President, Habu Gumel said;
“These 11 athletes were carefully selected out of the numerous applications from Nigerian athletes home and abroad. We would have wanted more slots, but we just had to make do with the available slots given to Nigeria by IOC,” he stated.
Speaking further about the preparations to the Tokyo Games, Hon. Gumel appealed to corporate organizations to support and sponsor Nigerian athletes to ease the burden on the Federal Government, sports federations and individual athletes as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 games.
“Qualifying for the Olympics is capital intensive and without heavy financial backing, athletes and federations find it difficult to cope with. To train properly and even attend the numerous competitions which serve as qualifiers for the Olympics costs fortune.
“We cannot leave everything to government or federation presidents. We need more corporate sponsors to help us in preparing these athletes for major international competitions,” pleaded the NOC boss.
Other athletes on the list include: Aruna Quadri ( TableTennis), Odunayo Adekuoroye (Wrestling), Blessing Oborodudu (Wrestling), Adeniyi Aminat (Wrestling), Adesanmi Oluwatoyin (Weightlifting), Omotayo Olajide (Table Tennis) and taekwondo duo of Adamu Abubakar and Otuadinma Uzoamaka.
We are not certain how the list was selected bearing in mind Glory Nathaniel was sanctioned by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) late last year because of “Presence of a Prohibited Substance (Stanozolol) (Article 2.1)”
“A Provisional Suspension imposed in a non-doping case does not in any way abrogate the presumption of innocence and it is not an early determination of guilt. Rather, it is an order made on a precautionary basis to safeguard the interests of the sport,” AIU said on its official website.