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Nigeria leaves Berlin without medal

By Onochie Anibeze, in Berlin

The 12th World Athletics Championships ended here in Berlin yesterday with Nigeria not being able to change their story since 1999 when they last won medals in the greatest athletics championships.

The best Nigeria did was qualifying for the finals of two events, the 4x400m women and same event for men. The girls placed 6th. USA , Jamaica and Russia won gold, silver and bronze respectively. Britain and Germany placed ahead of Nigeria ’s Endurance Abinuwa, Joke Odumosu, Josephine Ehigie and Folasade Abugan.  The men were last and caught a pitiable sight especially when Amaechi Morten appeared to be running backwards than gaining steps. It was a sad outing for the Solomon Ogba led Athletics Federation of Nigeria which is only about four months old in office but with a clearer picture of the plunge Nigerian sports has taken. Ogba said here that it would take Nigeria 10 years to get to the level the likes of USA and Jamaica have attained and that his greatest challenge was to stop the slide and work towards improving Nigeria ’s position.

CELEBRATING WITH EVERYTHING . . . Cuba’s Guillermo Martinez celebrates during the men’s javelin throw final of the 2009 IAAF Athletics World Championships  in Berlin. Photo: AFP
CELEBRATING WITH EVERYTHING . . . Cuba’s Guillermo Martinez celebrates during the men’s javelin throw final of the 2009 IAAF Athletics World Championships in Berlin. Photo: AFP

“Considering the problems we had and the state of athletics in Nigeria , I didn’t expect much from our athletes here. The problem was further compounded by injuries and drug cases which we will be addressing strongly,” Ogba said as events came to a close yesterday.

Director-General of the Sports commission, Patrick Ekeji said here that the AFN board should even be commended for ensuring that Nigeria participated, disclosing that the federation was yet to collect the fund meant for the championship

In 1999 in Seville , Spain , Nigeria won silver in 4x400m relay and Francis Obikwelu who later adopted Portuguese nationality won another silver. That was the last time Nigeria climbed the medal rostrum in the world championship.
Berlin put up a classic show in their organization of the events here and the crowd matched what happened in big soccer events. In some cases, the passion surpassed what people experience in world football arena


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