The selection of Mikel Obi as Nigeria’s flag bearer at next month’s Rio Olympics has sparked off controversies.
Some Nigerians noted that veteran table tennis star, Segun Toriola or track star, Blessing Okagbare instead deserves such recognition.
Toriola will be appearing at his record seventh Olympics, while Okagbare carries the country’s medal hopes in Rio.
“I’m surprised with Mikel’s selection because this is his debut at the Olympics. This was possibly to honour him, but I hope it will not cause a rancour in the contingent. I would have picked Toriola or Okagbare ahead of Mikel,” remarked sports analyst, Olawale Ishola.
Also, former spokesman of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Tony Nezianya who is a Director at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said Toriola should have been named as Captain.
“I must tell you that I find Mikel’s appointment controversial. He has just come into the team and there is Segun Toriola, a veteran of the Games, who is breaking an African record of having attended the most number of Olympic Games. With Rio Olympics, he will be making his seventh consecutive Olympics. He (Toriola) should have been given that honour with the captaincy of Team Nigeria instead of creating an unnecessary controversy,” Nezianya said.
But a football fan, Ahmed Ibrahim said “Mikel deserves to lead Nigeria to the Olympics. He is the most popular athlete on the contingent. This is his first and probably last Olympics.”
“We have considered popularity over experience. We only hope the team will win medals after we failed to do so in London four years ago,” countered Ikechukwu Ibe.
Nigeria will participate in eight sports in Rio – football, canoeing, rowing, athletics, table tennis, boxing, weightlifting and wrestling.