By Ben Efe
Former world 100m junior champion and Olympic 4x100m bronze medallist, Deji Aliu is optimistic that Nigeria male sprinters can break the 10 seconds barrier in modern times.
Aliu is one of the few Nigerian sprinters who have gone under 10 seconds. His best time is 9.95 seconds, which he did in 2003. Seun Ogukunoya did 9.88 seconds at the 1998 African championships in Senegal, while Olusoji Fasuba’s 9.85 seconds, remains an African record since 2006. Since then the best any Nigerian has ever gone is 10.06 by Ogho-Oghene Egwero at last year’s African Games in Congo Brazzaville.
But Aliu, one of the head coaches of the Making of Champions reality show said there are abundant talents in Nigeria that can even do beyond these times, but the athletes need the right chemistry.
“We are still capable of raising sub 10 runners. In the near future this is going to happen,” said Aliu in Lagos.
“The talents are there, all there is to be done is doing the right thing. It takes a lot of effort and money to produce a champion. And on the part of the athlete, there has to be discipline and hard work, personally I can still recall how much I gave to achieve what I did.
“This is the kind of discipline we are trying to imbibe in the MOC programme.”
Bambo Akani, the coordinator of the Making of Champions, disclosed that on March 24, Nigeria’s first professional track and field club will be launched in the efforts to raise future world champions.
“We are doing much more than a reality show. We intend to raise champions. That was our main purpose of setting up the Making of Champions. In Jamaica for instance, they only have two athletics club, that are churning out those world champions we see.
“We hope that Nigerians will give us the desired support. This is because if our athletes become international champions, they can attract goodwill and sponsorships into the country,” Akani said.