US-based Nigerian ex-athletes sad over poor outing in London


US athlete Tori Bowie (R) leads Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare during the semi-finals of the women's 100m athletics event at the 2017 IAAF World Championships at the London Stadium in London on August 6, 2017. Jewel SAMAD / AFP

• NIAA boss Apiafi promises to assist AFN

United States-based former Nigerian Shot Put and Discus thrower, Grace Apiafi, is worried over the rapid decline in the nation’s track and field athletics.
Apiafi, who is currently the President of Nigerian International Athletics Association (NIAA), told The Guardian yesterday from her base in California, USA, that urgent steps must be taken to save the nation’s athletics from imminent collapse, adding that her organisation (NIAA) was ready to assist the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) in that regard.

“I watched Nigerian athletes competing at the just concluded IAAF World Athletics Championship in London and I felt so disappointed with the outcome,” she said. “Now, we are ready to help Nigeria in re-building athletics back home. We are ready to come down to Nigeria, put up clinics, seminars and give scholarships to the young athletes because we can’t just watch things deteriorate more than this stage. We are not coming to take over anybody’s job, but the AFN must be ready to give us a chance,” she stated.

Apiafi was a member of Nigeria’s team to Seoul ’88 Olympics Games in South Korea, where she threw 15.06m in the Shot Put to place 22nd and 49.84m to place 10th in the Discuss throw. Before then, she dominated the African scene, setting records on many occasions. She won a gold medal in the discuss event at the African Athletics Championships in Annaba, Algeria in 1979, and was also a medalist in Dakar, Senegal the same year.

Also speaking with The Guardian yesterday, another US-based former Nigerian athlete, triple and long jumper, Dr. Benedict Olusola expressed his dismay over the poor performance in London.

“The poor performance in London was as a result of the neglect given to Nigerian athletics over the years,” Olusola said. “I was shocked when I read an online report that Nigerian athletes could not participate in the IAAF World Youth Championship in Kenya and the African version in Algeria. And there was no explanation from the government. In a developed country, the sports minister should have resigned immediately. They are killing sports generally in Nigeria and
I think it is time our government hand off from sports. That is what is done the world over, and I don’t know why my country should be different,” Olusola, who won various laurels for Ondo and Lagos State in the National Sports Festival at ‘Oluyole ’79 and Bendel ’81, stated.

Source: G Sport



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