Still going strong after three Olympic appearances, team captain of Nigeria?s contingent to the London Olympics, Chika Chukwumerije unburdened his heart to reporters on his elusive hunt for a medal in London.
“I am disheartened that my results fell short of the high expectations Nigerians rightly had of me and perhaps, a number of my team mates.? I make no excuses for the results. But I am not sorry for the four years I trained hard for the Olympics. I am not sorry that I put in 100% in the past three Olympics representing this country.
“I am not sorry for the amount of hard work and planning that went into my preparations.
“I trained long and hard for London 2012 using a program initiated in 2005. The same program saw me conquer Africa and win a Gold medal in the 2007 All Africa Games. The program saw me clinch an Olympic Bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
That same program helped me win a Silver medal in the 2011 All Africa Games, and qualified me for the London 2012 Olympics. I had the Olympics on my mind for 4 long years, and I was ready for it.”
Chukwumerije, against all expectations won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and a lot was expected of the 28 year old but he lost out in the first round in London.
“I prepared well, and on that, I ran into sheer hard luck. I commend and congratulate my Cuban Opponent, Robelis Despaigne, for his victory. We both played a good game and fought a good fight, but in the end, only one can come out on top. He did ? this is Sports!
“Four years of having the Olympics on my mind, four years of putting my career on hold, four years of emotional and psychological rollercoasters. Surely, no one can feel the hurt greater or longer than I do. But as the Bible says ?there are many plans in the heart of man, but the Lord?s counsel, that will stand.”
“I can say I did everything that should be done, that could be done, and I gave my all to my country.
“The pain of the London 2012 Olympics is still fresh on our minds. I am deeply hurt by the results, and so are a 160 million Nigerians. There are no excuses to be given, no blames to be shared, and no escape from trauma of dashed hopes.?
“The hurt is real, and like when one loses a loved one, we naturally ask questions in our state of anguish, as we seek to come to terms with harsh reality,” he added.
And not only questions are needed at this time but answers. The Sports minister has started by asking all sports associations to come up with a four-year plan so that this pain will not be replicated in Rio in 2016.
“I understand, perhaps more than most, that scorching national pain we all feel, Yet at this period, more than ever, we must come together as one and share this collective pain as one NIGERIA, one country, one people just as we came together and shared the joy of two Atlanta Olympic Gold Medals just as we came together and shared the joy of Blessing Okagbare jumping to a Bronze in Beijing 2008.
“Just as we erupted with joy when the news filtered in that the Sydney 2000 Olympic Silver won by the late Sunday Bada-led 400m Relay Team has been justly upgraded to an Olympic Gold medal,” Chukwumerije concluded.
Chukwumerije did not reveal however whether he will be retiring from competitive taekwondo or whether he will still continue representing his country in international events.
Jide, formerly a professional footballer, is now a sports writer.