By Ben Efe
Kemi Adekoya raised eyebrows when she did 54.59 seconds in the women 400m hurdles at the Doha leg of the Diamond league in April. Only last year, she was just another home-based Nigerian athlete working hard to reach the top. And it seems, she has taken the centre stage to display that she has a future in the event, currently she has the second fastest time this season on the IAAF world list. From all reckoning and barring any unforeseen circumstance she is primed for a good outing at next year’s World Championships in Beijing, China.
Her dream of becoming a world champion is been oiled by Bahrain a rich Arab country. The Arab nations have somehow lured some of the best Nigerian coaches and athletes in the recent past.
Adekoya, 21, came into national lime light last year when she gave national record holder, Ajoke Odumosu a fright at the CAA grand prix in Warri and also the national trials in Calabar, but Adekoya was dropped from the team to the world championships in Moscow. However, this season; she has showed signs that she could be the next Nawal El Moutawakel, the first African woman to win the 400m hurdles gold at the 1984 Olympics.
Adekoya appeared in the colours of Bahrain at the Doha meet and that spoke volumes of where her allegiance lied. Otherwise she would have been chasing Odumosu’s national record of 54.40 and the 53.73 seconds African record held by South Africa’s Myrtle Bothma.
“I am happy with my decision to run for Bahrain. I don’t have any problem with the Nigerian federation, they are like my parents.
“I am not based in Bahrain. I train mostly in Nigeria.
“My joining Bahrain is a life story which I can’t tell for now,” said the athlete.
She maintained that she was looking forward to the challenge of being in the world top five of the 400m hurdles.
“I am so happy being among the top athletes in the world. But all is God’s doing and hard work.”
Judging from comments made by Athletics Federation of Nigeria officials, it is plain to see that they have come to terms with the loss of the athlete to Bahrain.
“At a certain time in your career as an athlete, you might want to change nationality. No doubt, Adekoya changing nationality, is a huge loss to Nigerian athletics. What is left for us to do is to do the things other countries are doing to attract our athletes. We have to do it so that they will stay and enjoy their athletics career as they run for the country,” said AFN medical and doping director, Dr. Ken Anugueje. Technical and performance director Nesiama also spoke in the same vein.
“We are not going to block her change of nationality. If she has pledged allegiance to Bahrain, we have no problem with that.
“This is because if she is forced to run for us, she might not put on her best performance. We have the capability to raise other athletes just like we have done with her, she wasn’t trained abroad, and she is still training here. So we have others who we are grooming.
“Just as she is going, athletes of other nationality are also interested in running for Nigeria,” said Navy Commodore Nesiama
Secretary-general of the AFN, Bamidele Bamiduro revealed that Adekoya, is in the clear as she has not violated any transfer rule.
“I have nothing negative concerning her transfer so far. If the technical committee states otherwise then we will know what to do next.”