By Ben Efe
Former national heptathlon champion, Patience Itanyi has called on the Athletics Federation of Nigeria to stop parading over-aged athletes at local and international meets, as this was inimical to the development of the sport.
Itanyi, was once AFN athletes’ representative in the USA and has helped to convince Nigerian-born athletes in America to come back home and run for their fatherland. She argued that there were abundant grassroots talents in the country and the AFN should strive to discover new faces every calendar year rather than rely on the same faces in two consecutive African juniors as was witnessed at African Junior championships in Ethiopia.
“It is quite a shame that we are rather concerned about winning and not development. How can we explain that an athlete who won gold at the 2013 African junior, the 2014 World junior and the 2014 Commonwealth Games is still running at the 2015 African junior?
“Even if these athletes are still within the age limit once they have proved themselves capable at the senior level they should move on. There are so many undiscovered talents in Nigeria and here in the USA that can be called upon to represent the country. By so doing, we will be expanding our pool of young athletes,”said Itanyi who held the national heptathlon record, before it was broken by Uhunoma Naomi Osazuwa in May 2012 with 6049 points.
Itanyi who represented Nigeria in the long jump at the World Championships 1995 and 2000 Olympics games urged Nigerian officials to do their best in the development of athletics as the country was a force to be reckoned with in continental and world contests.