Thursday, April 25, 2013

No Going Back On Golden League Standard -Ogba

President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Evangelist Solomon Ogba in this interview with okenaijaathletics at the 2013 AFN/Solid Works Limited Golden League first leg in Shagamu, Ogun State insists the standard set by the AFN remains… 

How will you rate the first leg of the 2013 AFN/Solid Works Golden League in Shagamu?

Being the first outdoor race for the athletes this season, I will say that some of the times ran by the athletes are okay, but some are not impressive especially from some of the athletes we are expecting to be doing better than now. That is the more reason why we have to select the few and put them in the national programme. We have seen now that individually, what they have done with their coaches will not take us where we should be.
The first four among the key events we are trying to target will move into the camp in the High Performance Center in Port Harcourt alongside with the athletes for the Youth Championship.
A situation where a female athlete returned 52.81secs in the 400m is not too fantastic but being her first race of the season, I considered it encouraging. That means she can run 50secs within a short period, though, we have not developed to a stage we can say we want to win the 400m at the Worlds. But we want a situation where we can put together four or five athletes who can run average of 50 or 51secs, if we can do that, we are going to be in top three in the world.

What prompted the changes made to the AFN 2013 program especially the Golden League was changed from its traditional six legs to five legs? 

We reduced the AFN Golden League from six legs to five, which we have done with the revised calendar and if you look at the cities we have picked, it’s just that we cannot find good tartan tracks and also hostel facilities in the South Eastern part of Nigeria. We are trying to go to the traditional areas of athletics; we are going to Benin, Ilorin, Port Harcourt and Warri just to re-awaken the sports.
Like they say, change is the only thing that is constant. The adjustment was made because we want the national trials to be at the same time with the US trials. It’s good to do that because you must learn from the experts, we are struggling to be like them, so if you want to be like them you must do what they are doing. In the last three years we have been doing the same thing with them.

What would be the fate of junior athletes that participated in the National School Sports Festival, they were so good and they were not at the Africa Youth Athletic Championships in Warri?

What happened in the national under-18 was that we took the results of the schools sports, most of them whose performance were better than that of the Under 18, they would be invited to the U-18 camp, and those whose performance were not good enough were not invited. We have a pool now and we want to create four under-age camps when they are on holiday, because when they are in school you cannot really run a long programme for them. We don’t want to stop the education of any child, those athletes are going to form part of our holiday camping programme. 

Athletes agitated over lack of monetary rewards after winning their events in Shagamu, was it intentional on the part of AFN?

The athletes were wrong in thinking and believing that after winning their events there would be money waiting for them.
AFN have standards for each event which athletes are aware of and failure to meet the standard means there is no money for them, it’s done everywhere. Even at that, I have directed that the first four in each event should be given monetary rewards just to assist them in transporting themselves and feeding, but AFN standard still stands. 


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