Hard to believe that the Olympics are already over. The games have been great, save for a few unsavory incidents. The shameless dopers, if I can call them that, athletes admitting they crashed on purpose to give their teammates an advantage and others losing matches deliberately to avoid meeting tougher teams in the next round.
Good thing those Badminton cheats were sent packing. Maybe next time they’ll have a legitimate and well-thought out strategy to win.
There were also the Cameroonians who did a disappearing act. Considering they hadn’t won anything, I’m starting to wonder whether that wasn’t a clever move. Who knows, by the time they decide to return home, they’ll have earned some Euros and that will certainly do their loved ones and country’s economy plenty of good. Overall though, the games have been great, not counting the disappointment Africa has been dealt. Personally, I feel bad that Oscar Pistorious didn’t win his race.
Well, there’s the Paralympics for him to try again and I know he won’t leave empty-handed. Then of course we have the much-hyped Kenyan and Ethiopian long-distance runners who didn’t really impress. A friend of mine is actually surprised that we are surprised by Africa’s dismal performance. South Africa, Kenya, Algeria and a few other countries I forget won a few medals but compared to the numbers racked by the U.S, China, Russia and Great Britain among others, it’s like we didn’t even show up. I will be kind with my criticism though. Perhaps the reason we don’t do as well as the others is because it’s not a level playing field.
Our athletes are not exposed; we don’t have the facilities or funds to improve our players’ chances. Forgive me for being pessimistic but I know that even in 30 years, we won’t be close to achieving what some of the world class athletes have achieved. You’ve all read about athletes from developing countries wearing running shoes for the first time at major competitions. No wonder Dorcus Inzikuru (Uganda’s onetime Commonwealth and World Championionship 3000M Steeplechase winner) blamed her shoes for her poor performance.
Poor girl probably didn’t get a chance to try them on before the race and I’m guessing they were either too tight or too big and it was too late to do anything about it. I doubt the same would happen to a competitor from the US or those other developed countries where teams have not just one but several kits just in case. We don’t just lack the basics, we don’t have specialized coaches, physiotherapists, nutritionists, biochemists, psychologists, team doctors and all manner of support athletes need to be able to compete at that level.
And of course we don’t have the facilities and necessary equipment. There’s also the fact that we don’t have a clue about some sports. Ask your average African about Equestrian, Hockey or Fencing and all you’ll get are blank stares. I think we need some kind of affirmative action at the Olympics to create a level playing field. It worked at a university I attended in Uganda. Girls were awarded an extra 1.5 points and as a result, thousands of girls who would otherwise have missed out on the golden opportunity to join Makerere University got the chance of a lifetime and today, the gap between male and female students has been greatly reduced.
Perhaps at future games, only those sports practiced in all corners of the world should be considered. Either that or our more advanced ‘friends’ should let our less fortunate athletes access their facilities at no cost. That way, a Rwandan or Ugandan man or woman interested in Water polo can train in Europe or Canada. Only then will we able to say that the best man/woman did win indeed. Tall order I know but isn’t sharing one of the attributes of true sportsmanship?
To be continued...