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I Won’t Represent Nigeria Again If Things Don’t Change — Maryam Usman

For weightlifter Maryam Usman Nigeria is far from being ready to win medals at the Olympics. She speaks interview in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Maryam Usman - Nigerian weightlifter
Maryam Usman

What is it like being here in Rio?

I am proud to have represented my country Nigeria and also proud to have represented my family. Even though I may not have really done what I planned to do. I appreciate God for making me go through the competition injury-free. So, that I think is the ultimate; I really thank God. The competition was fine. I really don’t talk about it because it makes me so emotional.

Why did you say it’s so emotional for you?

I say it’s emotional because I wanted to do far better than I had done at the last Olympics but I couldn’t do that, so it hurts a lot.

What was the problem?

Actually there were a lot of problems but it’s just that you can’t be talking about everything right now. But really, I hope that the next Games do not turn out like this one. I want to appeal to whoever is in charge to please do a better job and get the athletes well prepared for the Olympics. There should be better preparations, there should be more encouragement. These athletes were competing with those that had it all. You don’t just come out of the blues to compete with people who have been training for four years. They worked and so they earned whatever they got here. It’s simply hard work. But we are trying to get on the medals table with tears and blood; with everything and it hurts if it doesn’t really work out. It’s painful.

You competed against some of the best weightlifters in the world here… 

Actually I have been competing with them like the lady who won the bronze medal in our event. I’ve always known her. In fact, we trained together in the United States before they took her elsewhere to train better. So she got all the preparation she needed to be on the podium; I got little or nothing but I still appreciate God for everything.

What would you say is your greatest achievement in this sport?

I got quite a few of them like the Commonwealth Games which is really one of my best. But the Olympics is the biggest sporting event and every athlete wants to be on that podium. If you don’t get on that podium for any reason, it really hurts.

If you had the opportunity to adjust your performance here, what would you change concerning everything?

If I had the opportunity to change, to start afresh, I would train well for at least two years, three years before going for a major competition like this. Events like this is huge; it is the dream of every athlete and countries to take a stand on the podium and for us coming out of Africa people see you like ‘oh she’s not going to make it’ but I tell you that if we have the right preparation, the right support and encouragement, why not?

This is your third Olympic Games and going forward are you going to give, another shot at the Games in four years time?

After my event I was talking to my coach and I said to him, if this is how things will continue; if this is the way Nigeria will continue to prepare for major events, then I don’t think I can continue to be a part of it. It is frustrating because you can’t just keep coming to the Olympic Games and keep getting the same result. You can’t have a new result doing the same thing; if you desire a new result then you have to do things differently. So if things will change I might give it a try but if it is going to continue like this, I don’t want to stress myself anymore. I can’t endure this kind of arrangement anymore.

But the first two Olympics you went to Nigeria did not prepare well too…

Yes, but I want to say London (2012 Olympics) was better. If not for the technical problems we had in my sport, we would have won one or two medals.

Some people say Nigerian teams do better when they don’t prepare well. It sounds illogical but do you share…

I disagree with that. This is an event people have been preparing for, for four years. You just can’t jump in within a month and half to the Games thinking you can beat those who have been training for more than four years. It’s just not possible; let’s not even think about it.

People say the preparation to London was good and Rio was bad but what’s the difference in the results?

There’s a huge difference talking about myself and my own results. In London I knew I was actually competing because of the way we prepared.

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