For Monzavous Rae Edwards, the dream of partaking in the ongoing Olympic games in Rio, Brazil, has been dashed.
After fighting for 16 years to make it to the biggest sporting event in the world, Edwards will miss the games, not through a fault of his, but a dropping of the ball by the Nigeria’s National Olympic Committee (NOC).
Only two weeks ago, he excitedly shared news of receiving the official Nigerian Olympic kit and even showed off his recently acquired tattoo — the five-ringed symbol of the Olympic Games.
That was how much the games meant to him.
Such was his ambition to be an Olympian that he launched, on his Snapchat, a series called ‘The Life of an Olympian’.
JOURNEY OF THE OLD MAN
His journey into the Nigerian team started in 2014 after leaving the USA team, owing to his dual citizenship.
Edwards took his country switch as a fresh start and has taken advantage of the opportunity in the last two years — during which he won medals in the African championships and World (Continental) Cup Bronze medalist.
When he went for the trials of the Olympic games, he was viewed as the “old man”.
“There are [Nigerian] athletes here that were 10 years old when I signed my first Nike deal. There are athletes here that were seven years old when I first ran 10.16,” Edwards wrote on his social media account.
“Almost all the Olympic sprinters are and will be younger than me.”
And then, things took a turn for the worse about five days ago when he realised that he may not have been properly cleared for the Olympic games.
“My life is like a movie. Instead of me being on a plane to Rio today. I’m sitting by the plane waiting on a call saying that the IAAF/IOC has cleared me for the games. Apparently there was some mishandling on my submission between the Nigeria federation, NOC (National Olympic Committee), the IOC (International Athletic Association Federation) and a bunch of confusion and entry wasn’t submitted properly.
“They have been working, they as in the parties involved, on fixing the matter for the past few days now. Of course with everything in life there’s steps and procedures that have to be done and certain people that have to do them. Right now I am caught in the butterfly effect. I was told that today is the last day for changes for the games and the IOC is waiting to hear from the IAAF to confirm what they are seeing on their website.”
FATE HUNG IN BALANCE
The sprinter was adamant that the “battle was far from over” and was hellbent on hanging on to hope.
“To my understanding, there is still a process that would allow me entry even though the entry process concluded today. So we will see what tomorrow brings as we await a response. Today is almost drawing to a close and still no word from Rio on my participation yet. But from what I’m being told the correction should be soon.”
Subsequently, a Nigerian official, he says, presented him with a glimmer of hope in the days leading to the opening ceremony of the Olympics.
“I just spoke with a representative from Nigeria and they said that Russian ban has been lifted and my process should speed up faster as that is what the IAAF has been tending to all week. Yes, I will miss the opening ceremonies but I wont miss the podium.”
Despite not losing faith in the possibility of participating, Edwards would eventually learn that he wasn’t listed to feature. Although he refused to put blame on the Nigerian federation, his pain, anger and disappointment were evident.
He maintained an upbeat stance, saying: “All I know is this is just another obstacle in my life that I have to deal with and overcome.
“There are certain things that happen that we are not in control of. Yet your destiny is your destiny. And sometimes we think certain things are our destiny that may turn out not to be. Apparently it wasn’t my destiny to be an Olympic Champion. I thank each and everyone of your from the bottom of my heart for the love and support and most importantly for the prayers. Our prayers were answered.
“I got the phone call today from my agent first. Then this letter/email followed. Although I want to be mad and I have every right to be mad at my NOC for taking this moment away from me, I can’t be. They’re only human. Humans make mistakes. Sometime those mistakes are at the expense of others. We must always remember to show compassion and not anger.
“I will never know who dropped the ball. I will never know who lied about it. I will never care.”
Edwards, who has a personal best of 9.98 secs, which he achieved in New York in 2009, also believes he was treated unfairly in the United States and constantly asserts that he’s been unlucky one too many times over the course of his career.
“Sixteen years I’ve done it the right way. Sixteen years I’ve been pushed around in this sport. Sixteen years I’ve been looked over. I left one country to run for another country because of them always taking me for granted.”
Had he made it, Edwards, 35, would have been the oldest competitor in the 100-meter sprint.
RUNNING INTO THE FUTURE
Edwards, who says his mother taught him perseverance, is no more interested in becoming Olympic champion.
Having competed nine times for the U.S. and Nigeria in the World Championships and Pan American games, Edwards says he wants to break the world record.
The man from Opelika, Alabama, however, failed to say which of the sprint events he has in mind.
“They tell you you’re not going to be able to participate in the Olympics. Your whole world falls apart. You’re devastated. First emotion you feel is sadness. The hurt sets in. The pain sets in. Then that turns unto anger, which turns into fury.
“Then he went racing and ran 9.994 meters and was approached by Jamaican coach, Patrick Johnson.
“You have a conversation, You discuss WC next year. You think about your payback. You head home. You no longer want to be Olympic champion. You want to smash the world record.”
Regarded as the fastest person ever timed, Usain Bolt is the first man to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records.