Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why AFN Is Organizing All Nigeria Relays-Yusuf Ali

Nigeria long jump record holder and Co-ordinator of the All Nigeria Relays, Yusuf Ali in this interview with  okenaijaathletics says the era of late preparation for Nigeria relay team is over as the Athletics Federation of Nigeria wants to see the relay teams running in competitions to put them in right shape before the World Championship in Russia in August.

What prompted the All Nigeria Relays?
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria decided to organize the All Nigeria Relays because we dont want what happened last season to repeat itself.

Last year, being an Olympic year, the men’s 4x100m team did not qualify for the Olympics and the 4x400m team qualified on the last day of the Africa Athletics Championships that was held in Benin Republic, but based on the fact that it’s only the best 16 teams that will make it, Nigeria lost out to Portugal. Portugal took the last slot because they qualified same day with us with a better time.

So the All Nigeria Relays became necessarily as we want to start running on time. This is March; I think we shall be running in many competitions, athletes like Usain Bolt has ran two meets in 400m. I think we should borrow a leaf from that. This over distance is what we need to put our athletes in the right shape for August when the World Championship starts in Moscow, Russia in August.

During the races in Ijebu Ode, the women 4x400m did not run, what happened?
The women 4x400m were skipped because we only had three teams available and in athletics competitions it is not done. They can’t compete that way; there must be four teams for the relay to be complete. Again, because we were running the same athletes in the 800m and 600m they need time to recover, it was a one day event, and we also felt for them. Casualties are what we don’t want in all the events

The next stop of the All Nigeria Relays is Warri, what should we expect?

Yes the next stop is Warri this weekend but it will be field events but we will be returning to the track after Warri for the relays again. In Warri, we are expecting over 500 athletes and I believe it will be as good and great as the Ijebu Ode’
If you look at the American system, they run every week and competition gets you better. But one must train for it, but the thing is, are our athletes training for it? We want to make them train for it and get used to it, once they get used to it, it becomes part of them. It was because of the top quarter milers that the AFN President, Solomon Ogba put up the relay competitions so that they will have lots of competitions and build themselves for the season.

It was noted that some of Nigeria’s top athletes did not turn up for the Ojebu Ode edition of the All Nigeria Relays. What happened?
That’s one of the reasons why we don’t get better in this country; some of these athletes will run one meet think that he is a super star. If you look at the world nowadays 46seconds is nothing in 400m.
We want to tell them that winning one competition does not make you a super star. We have qualified for the world championship with the 302 achieve last year. But the 4x100m must qualify they must run 39.20 and we don’t have that.
In those days in Nigeria, if you run 38secs, we are upset, but today we are even begging people to run 39 seconds, that means our sports is really going down and you can see the slide. We must help this sport by running competitions regularly.

Prize money in the name of transport was given to the athletes, what prompted this?
It was used to motivate the athletes to attend competitions, this is the first time in the relays we are having prize money. The prize money should help the athletes to attend competitions. I don’t want us to go back to our days where there’s no money but today, there is money in athletics.
The AFN has put down money for the relays so that athletes can come. They should take advantage of that to sharpen their skills and also get the prize money.

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