|Blessing Okagbare (L) of Nigeria at the 13th IAAF World Championships|
The 13th World Athletic Championship in Daegu, South Korea ended
after nine days of intense track-burning and stiff competition.
The championship attracted over 2,500 athletes from 200 countries
including Nigeria. It is an event held every two years, aimed at
attracting top athletes across the globe.
Indeed, the 13th edition which ended in South Korea has come
and gone with memories left to linger. Not unexpectedly, the
championship ended with a disastrous performance for Team Nigeria.
Of course, the country’s representatives did not win any medal.
Only two years ago, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) took
a 25-man team to the world championships held in Berlin, Germany where
Nigeria failed to win a single medal.
Indeed, Nigeria has failed to win any medal at the world championships
since those won by the likes of Gloria Alozie and Francis Obikwelu
at the 1999 edition in Seville, Spain. Both athletes have since
switched their allegiance to Spain and Portugal respectively. The
dearth of quality legs specifically in the men’s sprints,
where Nigeria was a dominant force both in Africa and on the international
scene between the 1980s and 1990s, has in recent years assumed
a worrisome trend.
It is obvious that Nigeria’s dismal performance at Daegu,
South Korea was a result of lack of commitment on the part of the
athletes as well as inadequate planning on the part of the body
that supervises athletics in Nigeria. While other countries encourage
early camping for their athletes, bickering, power politics in
selection of coaches and inadequate funding are some of the problems
militating against the progress of athletics in Nigeria.
With the poor performance of Team Nigeria in international events
in recent times, time has come for the government as well as the
athletics regulatory body to re-define their roles. The AFN should
start scouting for young athletes backed by long-term planning
and should also appoint world class coaches, as well as revisit
its programmes for athletics in the country to regain its lost
Finally, regular internationally sanctioned courses must be organized
for the coaches, under the employment of the Athletics Federation