Vanguard (Lagos)

26 February 2012

Nigeria: Preparations for the Olympics Began Four Years Ago - Egbunike

Athletics Federation of Nigeria,AFN proudly presented former Africa 400m champion, Innocent Egbunike as its head coach and charged him with the responsibility of re-positioning Nigeria's athletics that have taken a battering from underachievement over the years.

While speaking during the week in Lagos, Sports Minister and National Sports Commission chairman, Bolaji Abdullahi disclosed that Egbunike's immediate goal will be to prepare Nigerian athletes for the London 2012 Olympics billed to start on July 27.

Between now and August 3 when the athletics event is scheduled to begin, Egbunike who is still the national 400m record holder 25 years after running 44.17 seconds, is expected to put a team together that can win at least one gold medal.

Egbunike as coach has been in and out of the Nigerian team. He was instrumental to Nigeria winning a 4x400m silver at the 2000 Olympics, that medal was later upgraded to gold. However, he declared that preparations for the Olympics was not a five-month job as the case has turned out to be for Nigeria.

"Preparations for the Olympics started four years ago. There is really nothing much we can do, but to get the athletes to do their best, that is my aim at the moment," said Egbunike.

Nigeria won two bronze medals at the last 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. The women 4x100m quartet (featuring Damola Osayomi, Gloria Kemesuode, Franka Idoko and Agnes Osazuwa) and Blessing Okagbare's performance in the women's long jump saved the day for Nigeria in track and field.

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