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Odegbami: Some of Us Have Not Gotten Over Nigeria’s Withdrawal From 1976 Montreal Olympics

Segun Odegbami (MON), Member of Green Eagles African Cup of Nations winning team, urged the world to tune in to the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) in Lagos for the unveiling of the wall of 45 athletes and 22 footballers that represented Nigeria between 1976 and 1980. 

The event will take place at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos. On July 28, Allen Onyema, CEO of Air Peace, will recognize and present awards to 45 overlooked Nigerian athletes who were meant to participate at the 1976 Montreal Olympics but couldn’t because Nigera withdrew at the last minute.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Wednesday, Odegbami recalled the pain felt by the 45 athletes, including himself.

He said, “This event is not really about sports. It is not about achieving success in sports. It is more about the effect of sports, the impact of sports in society.

“What happened in 1976, hidden from those who cannot see beneath the surface is that 45 Nigerian athletes went to the Olympics, spent 10 days in the game village with all their other colleagues from around the world, and a day to the start, we went to the stadium for rehearsals. That evening, we were called to Abraham Ordia’s room, and told that we had to leave.

 “And if you know the life of a sports person, it is somebody who spent years on a daily basis, come sun, come rain, training, going through unbelievable disciplinary measures and regimes and on a strict diet.”

He added, “We were dreaming of becoming Olympians, making money, being famous, and suddenly you had to leave.

“47 years after, I tell you, some of us have not gotten over the disappointment.”

Odegbami in collaboration with Onyema wanted to celebrate the 1980 Eagles, not for their victory, but because it brought Nigerians together. 

“It was an event that brought Nigerians truly together for the first time after the Civil War,” he said. 

Odegbami emphasized on the need to improve on sports diplomacy in Nigeria, and how it can lead to developmental change. He stated that “the sport itself is the least of the activities.”

On July 28, all of the athletes who are still alive will get special recognition, while those who have passed away will receive posthumous honours. 

Some of the heroes past include: Charlton Ehizuelen, Davidson Andeh, Obisia Nwakpa, Godwin Obasogie, Bruce Ijirigho and more. Nigerian sports heroes from around the world are coming together at the NIIA on Friday to celebrate.

Frances Ibiefo

The post Odegbami: Some of Us Have Not Gotten Over Nigeria’s Withdrawal From 1976 Montreal Olympics appeared first on Arise News.

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