Former national long jump champion, Joshua Jubobaraye Kio has lamented the ouster of elite athletes from the National Sports Festival, which started Tuesday in Lagos.
Kio who represented Nigeria at the 1980 and ’84 Olympics in Moscow and Los Angeles respectively, argued that by excluding already established athletes, sports administrators are denying all Nigerian sportsmen and women an opportunity to display their talents. He argued that as long as the athletes are resident in Nigeria they have every right to participate in the festival.
“There shouldn’t be any categorisation of the National Sports Festival. As long as you are a Nigerian, there should be no limitation. It’s a measure of development, if I was in long jump for 17 years or more and there was nobody to push me up, it means that that particular event is static.
“But if there is developmental programme and new athletes are being brought up, it means that within a short time, they should push me away and new ones should take over.
“Somebody who has the natural tendency remains in a particular sport for so long. It is an indication that there is no development in that particular event or sport,” said Kio who was retired from sport by Yusuf Ali who still holds the national record of 8.27m established in 1987.
The eligibility rules of the festival excludes athletes who represented Nigeria in international events, athletes resident abroad and those who have participated in more in three festivals.
However, sports minister, Bolaji Abudulahi stated during the opening ceremony that the festival rules will be reviewed to include all category of athletes.