Former Olympic bronze medalist, Uchenna Emedolu, has expressed dismay over the inability of Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, to actualize his promise of naming a street after him following his victory at the 2004 Athletics World Cup in Spain. “When I won the World Cup top position in 2004, Obasanjo, who was our leader at that time promised to name a street after me in Abuja for bringing success to the country. But, I want to tell you that none of this and other promises made to me have been carried out up till today”.
The Commonwealth Games silver medalist also questioned the role of athletics officials toward the development of the sport in Nigeria. He said this while advising the country to discard the fire-brigade attitude they are used to and begin early preparations for all major competitions coming up next year. “Nigeria should start early preparations from now to be in a good position to do well in major competitions. This will help to erase any doubts in the athletes’ ability to excel because what happened at the last Commonwealth Games was as a result of adequate preparations if we must tell ourselves the truth.”
“As I speak to you now, nothing has been done in this regard ahead of 2011 All Africa Games. There is no short cut to success unless you prepare well and also ensure that the athletes are well motivated”.
“We have all been talking about the doping problem Nigeria found itself during the Commonwealth Games in India last month without taking a look at how the athletes faired before going to India. I think if there are programmes set out to get adequate preparations in place that issue won’t arise again.”
Emedolu lambasted the Sports Ministry for its lukewarm attitude in the release of funds for major competition. “I will hold the Sports Ministry responsible for the latest doom that has engulfed the country’s athletics because I see no reason why the ministry should have to wait for the last minute when competition is close before struggling to release fund. This is totally bad and should be criticized by Nigerians who want the good times to return to the sport.”
However, the Anambra state-born athletics coach called on athletes in the country to strive to achieve their dream through hard work. “I want to call on all Nigerian athletes to help themselves to grow because by taking drugs, they will only end up being disgraced and thrown out of the sport. I still believe that Nigerian athletes can hold their own anywhere in the world if they can identify the difference between good performance and artificial performance.”