|Sydney 4x400 relay gold gives Nigeria a little lift|
|Written by Patrick Omorodion|
|Saturday, 16 August 2008|
Eight years after the US 4x400 relay team inspired by banned drugs to 'steal' the event's gold medal from the Nigerian quartet of Sunday Bada, Enefiok Udo-Obong, Jude Monye and Clement Chukwu, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) finally awarded the medal to the country during the week.
The retrieval of the medal from the mouthy Americans, who kind of have always been favoured by doping regulations where only non-Americans are usually always caught in the dope web like Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson suffered in 1988 in Seoul, was slow in coming especially after the regulatory body of world's athletics, IAAF had recommended so long time ago.
It is however better late than never and it is hoped the winners of that medal would be accorded the right reception accorded others before them, that is the 1996 football Olympic gold medallists and Chioma Ajunwa, Nigeria's first and only individual gold medallists also from the Atlanta Games.
While Nigeria and Nigerians still celebrate that gold medal, it is pertinent to mention that its inclusion in the country's total medal haul amounts to little or nothing as it only takes the country seven steps on the overall world ranking from 67th to 60th position.
Without the on-going Beijing Olympic Games taken into consideration, Nigeria has against her name 2 gold, 8 silver and 9 bronze medals, bringing her total haul to 19, but with the Sydney relay gold, her gold haul now stands at three with the total going to 20.
Compared to the tiny Carribean country of Bahamas, it is a paltry dip in the ocean for a country of about 140 million citizens. Bahamas, before Nigeria got the IOC reprieve, were on the 65th position, two steps better than Nigeria, a country whose population is not near that of Ibadan or even Surulere in Lagos State.
Bahamas, who are a very strong force in athletics, especially the relays is made up of about 330,000 people, have garnered 3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals, totaling 8. Before now, Nigeria led in the countries with two gold medals. Ironically, with her new status of three gold, she still leads the countries with three gold medals courtesy of her superior eight silver medals compared to the six, four, four, three, three, two and one respectively garnered by Portugal, Croatia, Australasia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Bahamas and Azerbaijan.
The Sydney gold medal however failed to make any impact on Nigeria's overall medals standing among African countries in the Olympic family. Before and after the medal was added, Nigeria occupied the seventh position, behind South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria in that order.
With 36th position in the world, South Africa is the continent's most successful in the history of the Olympics with 20 gold, 23 silver and 26 bronze medals, bringing her total haul to 69. Kenya, known for her prowess in the long distance races comes second in Africa with a total haul of 61 medals, 17 gold, 24 silver and 20 bronze to place 38 in the world.
Ethiopia is 41 in the world and third in Africa with 14 gold, 5 silver and 12 bronze medals to aggregate at 31, Egypt follows with 7 gold, 7 silver and 9 bronze, totaling 23 to place 52 in the world. Morocco is fifth in Africa and 54th in the world with 6 gold, 4 silver and 9 bronze with a total haul of 19 medals while Algeria immediately before Nigeria is sixth after garnering 4 gold, 1 silver and 7 bronze medals to place 59th with a total haul of 12.
Expectedly, the United States leads the world with 895 gold, 692 silver, 602 bronze with a total haul of 2189. The dismembered Soviet Union is second with 395 gold, 319 silver and 296 bronze, totaling 1010, Great Britain is next with 188 gold, 242 silver and 238 bronze, total 668, France is fourth with 184 gold, 196 silver and 216 bronze with a total of 596 while Italy places fifth with 182 gold, 148 silver and 164 bronze to earn a total of 494 medals.