Feature: Nigeria should be a Global Sports Leader

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by Ayo Akinfe

As I watch the Commonwealth Games, I ask myself why Nigeria is not the world number one in the following 10 sports

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[1] Motorcycle racing- In Nigeria, we have turned the motorcycle into something else. Terrorists, kidnappers, armed robbers, etc now use them to terrorize the population. Motorcycles are even used for cross-border rice smuggling and the Okada motorcycle taxi is now the main form of transportation in many parts of Nigeria

[2] Walking- Nobody can walk like the Nigerian villager. Some women and children have to walk 2km to the stream and back every morning just to fetch water at dawn

[3] Table tennis- There is a table on every street corner in Nigeria

[4] Cycling- This one gets to me big time. Every Nigerian villager owns a bicycle and cycles to their farm on a daily basis

[5] Swimming- There are about 20m Ijaws in Nigeria. We also have 853km of Atlantic coastline

[6] Triathlon- This is running, swimming and cycling. We do all three

[7] Long distance running- Physically, the Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri and almost identical to the Luo, Kikuyu, Tigray and Oromo. How come they are excelling at marathons, steeple chase, 10,000 metres, 5,000 metres, etc and we are not?

[8] Wrestling- Do you all remember that wrestling brought Okonkwo to the fore in Umuofia? In many of our local communities, wrestling is part of the culture

[9] Judo – Given its similarity to wrestling, we should easily excel in this sport. In Things Fall Apart, Amalinze the Cat was actually more of a judoka because you could not throw him

[10] Archery – Every maiguard (a local way of referring to a security personnel employed to guard a house in Nigeria, it is a common occurrence in urban centres) is a bow and arrow expert. Why has this not translated to sporting success?

Our new sports minister will have his work cut out. With a population of 200m, you simply have to be at the top of the sporting ladder!

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