Athletics Federation of Nigeria member, Omatseye Nesieama declared that Nigeria has an uphill task at the 2010 Commonwealth Games billed for August in New Delhi, India.
Nesieama, a Navy captain, was speaking against the background of poor funding of the sport and the dearth of athletics talent that has hit Nigerian track and field in recent times.
â€œThere is little we can do now for the Games. The time is too short to start conditioning athletics that can give us good results. And coupled with the problem that we are facing with funding, there is no way we can get our athletes in top condition to do well at the Games,â€ said Nesieama.He submitted that the board of the AFN was now looking ahead to the 2012 Olympics in London.
According to him, the federation will embark on a grassroots development programme, which will throw up trainable talents that can be groomed in a space of two years. â€œWe realise that most of our athletes have come of age and we need to replace them. This is why the board of the AFN is paying much attention to grassroots development programme with a view to selecting athletes we can train towards the Olympics.â€
He added that the AFN is aggressively looking for private funds to ensure that these programmes are run.
Since the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games when Nigeria won gold, two silver and two bronze medals, track and field has steadily declined as the athletes who made the country proud at the Atlanta Games retired with the sport.