By Ben Efe
As the IAAF Diamond League series begins today in Doha, Qatar, former African 200m champion, Uchenna Emedolu, has lamented the absence of Nigerian male sprinters from top flight athletics.
Emedolu, who is now coaching young athletes recalled that it was at Doha, Olusoji Fasuba set the existing 100m African record 9.85 seconds in 2006. He lamented the dearth of male sprinters in Nigeria, unlike in the past when there was stiff competition in the Nigerian sprints.
However, he submitted that the country still has potentials only if the athletes were given the required training and encouragement.
“Our young athletes these days lack of encouragement. By the time they give these kids all that they need to build up themselves I can assure you that we will begin to see results.
“Apart from the athletes, the coaches need to be empowered too. It was local coaches that produced people like myself, Deji Aliu, Olusoji Fasuba, Seun Ogunkoya and also Olapade Adeniken the only group of Nigerians that did sub 10 seconds run.” Emedolu submitted.
Tosin Oke is the only Nigerian athlete that will be in Doha. He will be competing in the triple jump.
Meanwhile, Justin Gatlin is hoping to dethrone Usain Bolt as the sprint king. When he arrived Doha on Wednesday, Bolt’s poster welcomed and that only spiced up his determination.
“His picture’s everywhere,” Gatlin said. “I walk through the mall here and I see him everywhere. So I don’t have to imagine him everywhere, I see him all the time … I know he’s there and when I see him, I have to be ready for that.”
Gatlin will see the Olympic and world champion for real will be in late August, at the world championships in Beijing. Sadly for track fans, their schedules before then don’t coincide.