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AFN top shots do ‘military science’ to save Nigerian athletics

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Bothered by the over reliance on one athlete to rescue medals for Nigeria at international events, Athletics Federation of Nigeria officials have been meeting in Lagos to forge a plan that will guarantee the steady production of quality athletes for the country.

Before now things were done on trial and error basis with Nigerian athletes failing to get the desired results at the global stage even as the likes of Blessing Okagbare continue to show some promise. Athletics enthusiasts have continuously argued that for a country of Nigeria’s size and human endowment to be relying on only Okagbare, was a fundamental flaw and it must be corrected as the burden of expectation was weighing down the athlete in question.

Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare (2nd-R) wins heat 1 during the women's 100 metres semi-final at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 12, 2013. AFP PHOTO
Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (2nd-R) wins heat 1 during the women’s 100 metres semi-final at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 12, 2013. AFP PHOTO

However, AFN technical director, Omatseye Nesiama submitted that this phenomenon is about to change as the Federation will lay down structures that will put production of potential medals winners on auto-pilot.

“We are looking to make the high performance centre in Port Harcourt functional. It is very strategic to our efforts in reviving athletics in Nigeria.

“Once this structure is put in place, we will now look at the eminently qualified coaches who will be in to run it. We are hoping to have a performance director, who will co-ordinate the coaches and the training programmes,” said Nesiama a Nigeria Navy Commodore.

Already, there are speculations that Nigerian-born British coach, Michael Afilaka is one of the top coaches that will be running the show, having won the heart of Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdulahi with his graphic analysis of Nigerian athletes performances at the World Championships in Moscow, where Okagbare won a silver in the Long Jump and bronze in the 200m. However, Commodore Nesiama waved off such speculations.

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