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Monday, 22 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics, the Story Behind the $390,000 Gift

The Nigerian Olympics football team even with the well reported problems they faced in Rio, a benefactor just came out of the blues to be the first to appreciate their efforts at managing to win a Bronze medal in Rio. The benefactor who is a Japanese plastic surgeon Katsuya Takasu had earlier promised to reward the team after hearing about their financial difficulties before and during the tournament. Takasu fulfilled his promise by presenting cheques of $200,000 and $190,000 to Coach Samson Siasia and Captain John Mikel Obi respectively on behalf of the team. He met with them two hours after Nigeria defeated Honduras 3-2 in the bronze medal play-off. "The $200,000 covers the bonuses and allowances as promised and the $190,000 is for the bronze medal," Takasu told BBC Sport.

The story is quite a moving one because Takasu said he travelled all the way from Tokyo to Rio prepared to reward the team. He was in the stadium live to watch them beat Honduras to win the Bronze medal. In a very emotional testimony Takasu said, "This team showed resilience and fought the hardest to achieve success, despite all their problems - some people would have given up but they didn't,"

Worthy of praise is Coach Samson Siasia who inspite of all the odds becomes the most decorated African football Coach at the Olympics having won a Silver medal in Beijing in 2008. Instead, it is he who first praised and thanked Takasu for his generosity and support. "It's not just about the money. You can't equate his gesture in figures or words, to find a big supporter far away in Japan travel down here to cheer and back us is unbelievable.” Coach Siasia told BBC Sport.

With this Bronze medal, Nigeria, the 1996 Olympic football champions, are now the most successful African country in Olympic men's football, and the first African country to complete an Olympic medal sweep, having won a Silver medal in Beijing in 2008. Back home in Nigeria, there is not a whimper yet how the team will be received or whether it will be rewarded at all amidst a catalogue of unfulfilled promises made to some past football heroes like Stephen Keshi who have sadly passed away without getting their promised rewards. 

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