Athletics Federation of Nigeria head coach, Innocent Egbunike has shot down suggestions that the four months training camp he ran in Atlanta USA was a squander.
Athletics enthusiasts had hinged their argument on the fact that most of the athletes who were in the camp have failed to justify their inclusion in the list of athletes that trained under Egbunike.
They pointed to athletes like Goody James, Saul Weigpoua, Bukola Abogunloko, Ogho-Oghene Egwero and Peter Emelieze who despite their stay with Egbunike have been unable to lift their performances, whereas local athletes who were camped in Port Harcourt came up with better performances.
But Egbunike argued that the camp was not a waste rather it enabled the athletes to earn character.
“First of all I’m not a politician. However, I must tell you that when athletes go through a different programme it takes time for them to fit in.
“It says in the scriptures that the race is not for the swift, but to him that endures to the end.
“We had Egwero, Emelieze and Obinna Metu in the camp, but it was only Metu that was focused out of them all. The others had challenges. I had challenges keeping them in Atlanta. But we must understand that if the athletes have not learnt to run fast, they have learnt character and that is what we need in this country,” said the former African 400m champion and current national record holder.
Olympics trials: Metu dedicates victories to God, G4S
Nigerian sprinter, Obinna Metu who completed a double in the 100m and 200m at the just concluded All Nigeria/Cross River State Championships in Calabar has dedicated his victory to God and the global security firm, Group 4 Securicor, better known as G4S which has been sponsoring him since he came to limelight in 2008.
According to Metu, after former Nigerian sprinster, Uchenna Emedolu helped him to become champion of Nigeria, the security firm, took him up and have been responsible for his training around the world but his academic pursuit has been holding him down.
“Many people in Nigeria don’t know much about G4S whenever I mention how they have been helping me. They sponsored me to Jamaica where I trained under coach Glen Mills and Usain Bolt for two months in December 2010. That training helped to keep me focused,”he said.
The Enugu-born sprinter said the victory in Calabar was made possible by God as he was almost giving up because of some extraneous factors in the athletics circle but had to change his mind because he rarely gives up.
“I don’t give up easily but I almost didn’t want to participate in the trials because they drive you hard to meet certain standards but I thank God who made me to run fast and peak in the race. My exposure under Glen Mills and Usain Bolt really helped me,” he said on phone from Calabar.
He also gave kudos to the national athletics coach, Innocent Egbunike whom he described as a good coach even though he was trying to cope with his (Egbunike’s) programme.
“Egbunike is a very good coach but you know he was not a sprinter but a middle distance runner. When you change from one coach to another, it tends to affect your own progranmme but I think he has been doing a good job. The Atlanta camp really allowed me to concentrate and relax, not like when you camp in Nigeria with all the distractions from friends and family members,”he stressed.
He said that having reclaimed his national titles and qualified for the Olympics, he would await the programme the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN has arranged for them and train well to make an impact at the London Olympics.
Delta plans athletics development programme
Gingered by the progress made by Cross River in grass-roots athletics development, Delta state is planning to run a similar programme with the aim of producing top class athletes.
Delta State Sports Commission chairman, Mr. Pinnick Amaju disclosed at the just concluded All Nigeria/Cross River Championships that plans are underway to have a comprehensive sports development programme in the State.
“We have a lot things coming for sports development, athletics is one of them. “In Delta we have abundant talents. And we are going to set up training centres in all the senatorial districts to offer basic training to these talents,” said Mr. Amaju.