Monday, May 5, 2008
Nigerian Chess Scandal - Will It Finally Be Resolved?
This is absolutely outrageous - a gold medal winner deprived of his medal for 10 years! Give the man his medal. GIVE THE MAN HIS MEDAL! HE EARNED IT. Story from AllAfrica.com Nigeria: Soyinka Wades Into Medal Saga 5 May 2008Posted to the web 5 May 2008 Femi SolajaLagos Almost 10 years after International Master Odion Aikhoje had been denied the honour of being in possession of the gold medal he won at the World Chess Olympiad held in Elista, Russia in 1998, there seems to be a ray of hope for the former national champion to reap the sweat of his efforts following the intervention of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. Aikhoje, one of the most colourful and entertaining Nigerian chess players whom a prominent international chess commentator once referred to as 'Young Casisus Clay of chess', took the world chess scene by storm at the Elista'98 Olympiad when he won a gold medal on board two to thus became the third African player to achieve the feat at that level. But as fate would have it, the Nigerian star could not wait for the medal presentation at the closing ceremony of the event because he had to meet up with a connecting flight back to Lagos with other members of the team. His medal was, however, sent to him by the International Chess Federation (FIDE) to its Nigerian affiliate for onward presentation to the chess prodigy. However, the then President of the Nigeria Chess Federation (NCF) Arch Theophilus Caifias, allegedly decided to hold on to the medal claiming that the Sports Ministry had failed to refund the expenses incurred in attending the event. Four years ago Mr. Wole Elegbede, the International Coordinator of Chess, who reside in USA resurrected the issue at the last World Chess Olympiad in 2006 in Turin, Italy to the amazement of FIDE officials and only recently, the player in question, Aikhoje wrote a formal protest letter to the NSC boss, Abdulrahman Gimba. However, the good news is that Professor Soyinka, according to Mr. Elegbede has stepped into the lingering matter. "Professor Soyinka has waded into the matter he said 'Odion won his gold medal and should have it'", Elegbede explained. He also said that the professor has gotten across to both the NSC boss and Arch. Caifias and in the next few weeks or so the young man (Aikhoje) will have cause to smile because it better later than never," Elegbede confirmed in a telephone interview last week. He also revealed that the Nobel Laureate winner had been a lover of the brain game in his younger days and plans are underway to stage a major tournament in his honour probably early next year. "In his younger days, Wole Soyinka used to play chess and was part of chess enthusiasts that followed keenly the Late Bobby Fischer of USA and Boris Spassky of the then USSR's world title chess match. "Incidentally in September last year, at an international festival in Mantua, Italy at the Festivalettatura, Spassky, who was playing chess with a number of people, at a time wanted Soyinka to sit to have a game with him but the Laureate winner declined jokingly saying 'he would not want to be Spassky's sacrificial lamb!'".