Nigeria Did Not Believe In My Ability To Win Medal In Beijing Olympics – Chika Chukwumerije

Nigeria Did Not Believe In My Ability To Win Medal In Beijing Olympics – Chika Chukwumerije

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By Our Correspondent

Today marked it exactly twelve years since Nigeria last won a medal in Taekwondo in an Olympic Games.

On that great day in Beijing China 2008 Olympic Games, Nigeria’s Taekwondoist, Chile Chukwumerije stood shoulder to shoulder against the world bests in the games.

And at the end of the Games, Chika emerged the first person in Sub Sahara Africa to win a medal in an Olympic games.

Recalling his experiences in the games, Chika, who is now the Technical Director, Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, NTF, said that part of the challenges he faced then was the fact that Nigeria did not believe in his ability to conquer the world.

“Exactly 12 years ago to this day, specifically on 23rd August 2008, I won an Olympic Bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. At the time, I was the first Taekwondo athlete from Sub-Sahara Africa to do so.

“The journey was so much more difficult because a nation did not see my abilities or my capacity, nor have a system or infrastructure that could identify and develop my potentials.

“I thank those who did believe and support in one way or the other – Late. Comrade Uche Chukwumerije, Princess Gloria Iweka, Ekungayo Ogunkunle, Chief Patrick Ekeji, Achim & Monika Grein, Olalekan Okusan, Coach Liao and Sam of the National Taiwan Sports University, my dear brothers Che, Dike, Chaka, Perez and Kelechi; and my beautiful sister, Azuka,” he said.

Chika Chukwumerije who is now a global Taekwondo instructor identified challenges facing Nigeria Taekwondo and offered advice on how to overcome them

“Let me tell you something – A King was first treated as a Prince and a Queen was first treated as a Princess. If Nigeria wants to have a steady flow of Olympic medalist and World Champions, then we must start treating our youth athletes as the future elite athletes we want them to be.

Some pointers:-

  1. Welfare – robust allowances, sports scholarships, quality kitting, and provision for housing and feeding.
  2. Training support – personnel that develops the athlete holistically – coaches, trainers, physiotherapists, nutritionists, committed sports administrators, researchers etc.
  3. Infrastructure – well equipped training facilities, good equipment
  4. Exposure – state, national & international competitions, as well as state, national & international training camps.
  5. Recognition – Awards and renumerations at various stages of career development.
  6. Post-career support and guidance, and transforming aging and former athletes into fresh and energetic sports support personnel.

Building Champions is sooooo easy, yet so difficult because it requires us to do the simple consistently over many decades.

We must ‘stop pretending to invest’ in our future and ‘start investing’ in our future. Raising quality athletes takes time, effort and resources; and must not have a price tag to it.

In whatever age, century and time we see and embrace this, that is when our journey to become a great sporting nation will begin.

We must start walking our talk,” he concluded.

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