Nigeria athletes are making their marks in the on-going Asian Games in the sprint running for Qatar with Samuel Francis winning the 100m silver and Femi Ogunode clinching gold in the 400m.
Francis while expressing delight about his feat said he felt satisfied after spending about three months a year in Qatar training and intensifying his preparations in US and Poland.
When asked about his feeling on representing Qatar, he said: “I’m still who I am. It feels very natural.”
He said he was well looked after by the sporting authorities in Qatar and does not spend much time in Nigeria.
“I just go to visit my parents,” he said. Ogunode said he spends about five or six months a year in Qatar.
Meanwhile, an athlete from Bahrain won the men’s 5000m at the Asian Games with runners from Qatar taking silver and bronze making it all Kenyans affair.
Ali Hasan Mahboob came home ahead of James Kwalia and Felix Kibore to take gold. Elsewhere, Ethiopian-born Shitaya Habtegebrel, running for Bahrain, was third in the women’s 10000m, wrapping herself in the flag to receive her medal.
One arresting statistic from the Asiad (as the Games are known) was that Kenyan-born runners won the men’s 800m, 1500m, 5000m, 10000m, 3000m steeplechase and marathon events.
Meanwhile, Gulf officials have been quick to dismiss complaints over athletes switching nationalities, saying that European countries and the United States have long been naturalizing other countries’ runners for their own good.