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Oshomah wants administrators to do away with ‘politics of bitterness’


Nigeria’s lone representative in weightlifting, Mariam Usman finishes 9th in her category at Rio Olympics.

Nigeria’s lone representative in weightlifting, Mariam Usman finishes 9th in her category at Rio Olympics.

Former Olympian, Emmanuel Oshomah, believes officials’ selfish interest is the major problem facing our sports.

For years, Oshomah has contributed to the growth of the nation’s sports, particularly in weightlifting, which he has ruled both as an athlete and as a coach.

At the ninth edition of the African Games in Algiers in 2007, Oshomah’s managerial expertise saw weightlifting contributing a total of 17 gold, 12 silver and seven bronze medals to Team Nigeria’s kitty, the highest by any sports federation.

Oshomah was the assistant to former Technical Director, Cosmos Samson (now retired), to Algiers 2007 Games. He was allegedly edged out of the system due to high-level politics by some board members of the weightlifting federation.

Since then, the nation’s weightlifting has suffered untold hardship, leading to harvest of poor results in Africa and at global level. At the last African Games in Brazzaville Congo, Nigerian lifters could only pick eight gold, 18 silver and nine bronze medals as against the 17 gold they won in 2007.

And unlike in past Olympic Games, where weightlifting had a large pool of athletes, only one female lifter, Mariam Usman, represented Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She failed to live up to expectations of Nigerians.

As Nigerians all over the world are still in the mood of the nation’s 56th Independence anniversary, Oshomah says sports administrators in the country must learn to do away with ‘politics of bitterness,’ which he says, contributed to the poor performance of Mariam Usman at the Rio Olympics

Speaking with The Guardian, Oshomah revealed that the road leading to Usman’s failure at the Rio Olympics was ‘constructed’ long before she embarked on the trip to Brazil.

“Towards the Rio Olympics, Mariam Usman failed from day one because she was made to train under five different coaches at different times,” Oshomah said.

“Her best ever performance was at 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she lifted 280 kg after scoring 6/6 attempts, and got a gold medal for Nigeria. Soon after, coaches were brought in indiscriminately to prepare the weightlifters in the qualifiers for Rio.
 From coach Andrew Ekanem, the baton changed to Sefiya Onubaye, and then to Patrick Bassey before Cosmas Samson, who eventually took her to Rio.”

Speaking further, Oshomah who is the Technical Adviser to Delta State weightlifting said: “Cosmas Samson had since retired from active coaching service from the Akwa Ibom Sports Council, and has been in his village well over six years before he was drafted to the national team to Rio. Also, Patrick Bassey had stopped coaching when he was made Deputy Director of Sports in Abia State over 15 years ago.
No weightlifter will survive such a programme of going through five coaches for one Olympic Games,” Oshomah stated.

Under Coach Oshomah’s supervision at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Mariam Usman lifted 280 kg to win a gold medal, but in Rio, she could only lift a total of 265kg to place a disappointing ninth position.

“Maryam needed to add only 10kg to her Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games record to beat Sarah Elizabeth of the United States to the bronze medal in her category at the Rio Olympics. But it was not possible under such a confused preparation. Maryam also went to the United States on a personal note to train under yet another coach. The point I am trying to make is that wickedness on the part of some of our sports administrators is killing the sport silently, and we have to change our ways of doing things for Nigerian sports to move forward,” Oshomah stated.

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Emmanuel OshomahRio 2016
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