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Athletes, coaches want Berlin 2009 issues resolved

By Ben Efe
As the Athletics Federation of Nigeria begins preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India, athletes and coaches who participated at the Berlin 2009 World Championships have called on the Sports Ministry and the federation to make life more comfortable for them.

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The AFN opened camping last week at Ijebu-Ode without funding by the Sports Ministry, but some of the athletes and coaches voiced out their opinion that issues which made Nigeria not to win a medal in Berlin ought to be resolved in order to create a conducive atmosphere that will make the athletes perform better in up-coming events.

“It would have been nice if we looked at what went wrong in Berlin before we start camping.
“Athletes are being owed allowances, that need to be paid. Some are nursing injuries and we need to find out how well they have recovered before we start talking about camping,” said former national heptathlon champion, Patience Itanyi.

Itanyi, who is the USA coordinator of Nigerian athletes, added that there should be an  improvement in the management of Nigerian athletes as focus shifts to the Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Olympics thereafter.
Also speaking, throws coach, Gabriel Opuana, said that the athletes are being owed money even from the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

“It would have been nice if all the monies owed the athletes are paid. This would motivate them to do more and produce this result. We have to change the way our athletes are being treated in this country,”Opuana said.

Nigeria’s participation at the last World Champions was marred by ill-preparations, lack of funds, injuries to key athletes and dope failures. According to 400m runner, Goddy James, all these could have been avoided if there was planing and adequate preparations.


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