Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Chief Solomon Ogba in this interview says Nigerian Athletes will surpass the 2010 achievements next year as he evaluate the activities of the body since attaining leadership of the AFN.
Athletics in 2010
Athletics In 2010 is not too bad compared to what we had previously over the last three years, 2010 is not too bad at all.
It’s a gradual process and we started the train and ensured the project move on very well and that was what we expected and we really got what we planned for.
The high point of 2010 for Nigeria athletics were few flashes, some personal best in the field and also getting back to our area of strength like in the jump.
Getting back there very strongly and even in the sprint, we saw a Nigerian running 11.0 seconds, we have not seen that in 8years now, even a 10 seconds.
We also saw a long jump of over 8meters, we have not seen that for a long time also and even in the 100m, we saw some good timing early in the season.
Purported IAAF Ban
When I saw the news I was disappointed, if you go into the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) website today you will get all the information you want, yet the media published the story that Nigeria has been banned by the IAAF.
They did not take time to check or call yet they reported the story, which is not true.
Like every federation, the IAAF owes us, Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) owes us and we owed some athletes which we have paid.
Everybody owes, the federal government owns us so much money, base on their own approval, you approve for competition, six months the money is not here, one year the money is not here and we must go for the competitions.
We had one or two issue with somebody asking for appearance fee for a championship which don’t have appearance fee so we ask IAAF to go and resolve that.
One thing some of our athletes are doing that is bad is not telling the AFN where they based, this is bad because when the IAAF comes looking for them it is the AFN they come to for such information.
Osayemi Drug Scandal
We lost a medal at the Commonwealth Games in India, yes but the performance and time was not the best, unfortunately something happened that we can’t totally put on her.
We all know very well that stimulant cannot enhance your performance so if you knowingly take it, it can never enhance your performance.
Also, the kind of stimulant saw in her kind be metabolically generated, your body can even do that, so we lost it. We were hoping on Blessing Okagbare but she could not make it to India.
I need to make a distinction between stimulant and steroids, what was found in her was not steroids or performance enhancing and like I said, the kind of stimulant found in her can be metabolically generated by the body system.
So there is not anybody can do about that, it was the same substance that was saw in World and Olympic champion, Ann Fraser, though she is under ban now and it was the same substance that was found in her.
Don’t forget that she also has the same history of tooth ache. That means some of the drugs for tooth ache have this substance.
That was a very sore note but it was unfortunate that it happens that way and if listened to the Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games, he never blamed her, he almost exonerated her and it took 5 days before the medal was withdrawn from Nigeria.
Attending Championships In 2009-2010
We cant attend championships when the funds are not coming, we were able to attend championships in 2009/2010 due to some scarifies from friends and some members of the board, we hope that next year we will get the funding we need to attend all the championships coming up.
As it is right now, it was very difficult last season.
This year we had the qualifier for the Youth Olympic, we did well and we had the Africa Junior Athletics Championship in Morocco and we had a brilliant outing.
Fortunately, we were able to attend the World Junior Athletics Championship in Moncton Canada and we did very well also.
We also had the privilege of attending the Africa Senior Championships in Kenya where we defeated our arch rival South Africa to take the overall second position, though Kenya took first but I don’t consider them because they were the host.
Ethiopia that was supposed to challenge them in the long distance races fumbled.
Finally, we attended the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India and we went with a small contingent of 15 athletes and of course we did well excluding what happened.
We had 2 gold and 3 silver medals, check the history and you will see what I am saying.
The truth is that sports as a whole has not been given the support it should have and once anything goes wrong, everybody starts crying.
This is because of sponsorship and provision, we are living in a third world country and we don’t have a developed private sector that can run sports the way it is done in the Western world. What we are saying is that government must still provide for sports while sponsorship comes as supplementary.
Now government provision for sports is grossly inadequate because the National Sports Commission have not been given enough money and if they don’t have they cant give anything.
If you look at the budget, sports is not in the front burner, it is like they are doing you a favor but when anything goes wrong everybody starts crying, everybody will speak, even Mr. president.
Now they are doing the budget, go and check how much has been provided for sports, you will be surprised.
Do you know until I came in, no sports federation had a vote? I lead the push for it and now, we have more votes, and this coming year let’s see what we can do.
Well AFN as a Federation don’t have any employed coaches; we make do with what the states are bringing. Now we are trying to do something that will engage 6 ex-international athletes that we are going to send to the different zones like Falilat Ogunkoya, Mary Onyali, Gebral Okon, Olusule and Tom Nwakwe.
We are trying to engage this team as consultants, we have discussed it with the National Sports Commission, this was Joe Garba did in the early 70s and we are starting it in 2011.
If you remember when I came in 2009, I said we are going to rebuild the process and now you can see a much improved athletics in Nigeria.
We have used about 20 coaches that came in to assist and we now know those that can take athletes from one level to the next level.
We have some good coaches who understand, but the problem is application. Everybody knows you need to run three trials but how do you as a coach applies it and when? This is scientific.
We started our season with a Junior programme, we did that this year and what we are doing now is the buildup.
Next year we are starting the junior programme in February and it is named after Dr. D.K Olukoya, he is going to be taking over the sponsorship of the junior programme,
That is where we should start from and once we have done that, we will do the non conversional sports like the 50m 150m, 300m, 600m, 1mile and others.
This is what is obtainable all over the world but unfortunately in this country; we don’t have winter time so we don’t have indoor.
All over the world during the winter time, they run indoors which is the shorter distances to prepare you for the out door, so since we don’t have the indoor, we can run the same races but in a different environment. So we are starting with our junior program which starts in February.
While others will be doing their out door in March, we will do ours in April, because we have a long season, don’t forget that we have the World championships and the All African Games.