As more reactions trail Team Nigeria’s poor outing at the just-concluded International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Athletics Championships, fans blame it on lack of investment, vision, blueprint and transparency.
Some of those who spoke on Tuesday in Lagos on the competition held from Aug. 4 to Aug. 13 in London, said explicitly that Nigeria did not prepare adequately for it.
Christian Aiyegbeni, a former decathlete, said he was not surprised by the result recorded by Team Nigeria at the championships, saying: “You do not reap where you did not sow’’.
“I was not surprised at the poor performance of our athletes, it shows emphatically that we have no plans for these athletes; we haven’t invested anything in them.
“And we expect them to win at the world stage. You reap what you sow, that’s sports for you.
“I have said it before that we lack vision, structure, there is no system and blueprint to work with in Nigerian athletics.
“No one is held accountable, everyone is seeking for his own interest and not the interest of the athletes and the hardworking coaches,’’ he said.
Aiyegbeni, currently an athletics coach with the Yarmouk Sports Club in Abu Arish, Jizan, Saudi Arabia, said that it was sad that the country missed out in winning medals in its area of strength.
He added that athletes like Salwa eid Nassir, who denounced her Nigerian name (Ebelechukwu Agbapolounwu) chose to do that because the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Nigeria failed to notice her.
“Athletes like Nassir, who chose to represent Bahrain, that won the silver medal in women’s 400m was one among many talented athletes AFN and Nigeria failed to notice and invest in.
“Some athletes that are lucky found themselves representing other countries that will invest in their God given talent or else they would have been wasted like we have many talents in Nigeria wasting because the necessary body failed to do the needful.
“I must therefore, commend countries like Bahrain that have adopted these athletes and invested in them and now became the envy of the nation,’’ he said.
He, however, advised the new AFN board to have a vision, invest more in the athletes, especially the home-based athletes as well as have a written work plan.
He added that execution of the plan in achieving goals must be made open backed by a working grassroots structure with states and clubs.
He also said countries like South Africa and Botswana should be made a case study to improve Nigerian athletics.
“Nevertheless, if they don’t know what to do, they should visit, ask and learn from the South Africans or Botswana Athletic Federation how their athletes are excelling,’’ he said.
Olalekan Soetan, a Hurdles Coach, said he also was not surprised as there was no preparation due to the long drawn sports’ federation elections.
“What you plant is what you reap; this season has been wasted with the elections as the main focus. There was no preparation, no funding and what can 1,500 dollars motivate?
Soetan added that there was no transparency in choosing the officials who accompanied the athletes to the World Championships.
“We did not see the published list of officials, the selection of coaches was not done on merit as far as I am concerned.
“How can a coach who trained athletes for at least two world championships qualifiers not be selected, that’s not fair.
“As for me, alien team coaches eventually killed the women 4x400m team,’’ he said.
Nigeria placed 50th on the overall medals table with five points.
The U.S. placed first with a total of 30 medals, comprising of 10 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze which fetched them 272 points.
Kenya came second with 11 medals comprising five gold, two silver and four bronze which fetched them 124 points.
South Africa was third with six medals comprising of three gold, one silver and two bronze, resulting in 52 points.