As an athlete the Olympic cycle doesn't always come round when you are at your absolute best. This was the harsh reality for football icon Segun Odegbami when his Olympic moment came in 1980.
The Olympics in 1980 was the final opportunity for Africa and the Communist bloc to present their top national sides. This was before the Olympics began to be restricted to under-23 teams beginning with the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Nigeria, even though they had qualified in 1976, had not entered the football tournament at the Moscow Olympics.
Reflecting on the Games of 1976, Odegbami said: "We did not participate because on the eve we were sent back home by the Federal Government because we were part of the sympathy withdrawal for South Africa."
It was more than disappointing. It was shattering because preparing for the Olympics takes several years of hard work and athletes dreaming. You just want to go at least once in your lifetime and you never can tell which is going to be the one opportunity that you might have."
However, on the back of their victory in the 1980 Nations Cup, another chance was just on the horizon.
The Communist countries were holding their own private Eastern bloc party in 1980 because a number of nations boycotted the Olympics. U.S. President Jimmy Carter refused to send American teams to Moscow after the Soviets' Afghanistan invasion. Six other countries that had qualified for the football tournament followed suit -- Argentina, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Malaysia and Norway. Nigeria were nominated by FIFA to take Ghana's place. The other invitees were Venezuela, Zambia, Iraq, Syria, Finland and Cuba.
"For some of us who were there in 1976 and still happened to be around in 1980, it was some kind of compensation. For the vast majority who couldn't make it you could see the disappointment was massive."
"Montreal was different from communist Russia. The atmosphere was totally different. Where you eat, sleep and feel freedom in Montreal, Moscow was so secretive with everything done in fear. You didn't know who was watching you."
"In Canada you could move freely but in Moscow even to get in the Games village there was all kinds of gadgets and security gates."
"Even within your room there were all kinds of restrictions as to what you could do. You couldn't plug your tape recorder into the light socket. We were told that everyone was being seriously watched."
Odegbami missed the first game in Group B, a 3-1 defeat to Kuwait. He started the second match against Czechoslovakia but lasted just the first half of the 1-1 draw. It was the end of his Olympics as he missed the final group game, a 1-0 defeat against Columbia, with injury.
"Moscow was a poor experience for me, particularly because we played three games and lost two. The second was a draw and that was it for me at the Olympics. I only participated in one game although I was the captain of the entire (Nigerian) contingent to the Games. Much was expected of me, but I was injured."
If the Olympics represent the pinnacle of sport, the boundaries imposed by the Moscow authorities made the Games a less than sweet experience. "It was really like being in prison, but that was a long time ago and Russia is totally different now. That's how it was for us in Moscow in 1980."
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