I’m not sure why people ask to ‘let the games begin’. Are we holding your games? Then again, I suppose a stranded football team could be seen as a blocker to the games by those obsessive cultures that don’t understand fashionable lateness. And if that lateness earns you a free ride, you see why Nigerians act the way we do. Right now, I’m sitting on a train from London to Birmingham, having been late for the original train but leveraging ‘Naija sense’ to get issued a first class ticket for the next train. It’s the dream.
I am excited about the Olympics, mainly because I have not had to do the hill sprints, 6am gym sessions and endure the solitary torture required to be a professional athlete. But who is laughing now? They most certainly are.
I am excited about Nigeria’s 100 metre champion, Seye Ogunlewe, earning his place at his first Olympic games, by working bloody hard. With just the support of his family and not Nike or Lucozade, an Ajebutter dude from Atlantic Hall has made huge sacrifices, and is now an Olympian. Considering most elite sprinters have had their Adidas deals since they were teenagers, that is huge success. I know too many people with those talents whose Nigerian parents’ risk-reward calculations have condemned them to spreadsheets instead of podiums. Seye is doing it for them.
Michael Phelps is an Olympic institution, but it still excites me that he has come back to mop up the medals by the pool for one last time. If swimming were a higher profile sport, there would be Phelps statues in every town, and rightly so. Speaking of veterans, there is a chap called Segun Toriola, the Nigerian table tennis legend who has just competed in his 7th Olympic games. In other countries, there would be books about this guy but…
We all know and love Usain Bolt, but what is impressive about him is not the talent but the remarkable consistency. He did not break out of nowhere in 2008, but has been a global star from when he became the first junior to run the 200 metres in under 20 seconds. He broke the 100m world record three times when he was 21 and 22. Even if he slips up and gets a silver this time around (I mean, in this year of Brexit), I hope his ego lets him celebrate because he will be talked about in 100 years.
I like Dina-Asher Smith, she is a bright historian at Kings College London but also the fastest British woman in history. Oh and she’s 20! One to watch.
Sadly, we can’t talk about the Olympics without talking about dope, because athletes have many reasons to cheat. However, it is aggravating for us sports fans to feel like people are not on a level playing field. What I would like to see though is events were everyone is on every possible drug. The possibilities are endless.