This Day (Lagos)

21 June 2012

Nigeria: OGBA - Only 'A Standard' Athletes Will Go to Olympics

Photo: The Vanguard
Nigerian shot putter and two-time Olympian Vivian Chukwuemeka.

The President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba, has declared that only Nigerian athletes with the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) 'A Standard' will be taken to the 2012 Olympic Games.

He said Wednesday at the Gala Night he hosted for the Nigerian Olympians Association that, taking athletes below the IAAF 'A Standard' to the London 2012 Olympics would amount to a waste of time and resources as the athletes will definitely not win any medals.

Ogba stressed that the decision to leave out the athletes, who are below the 'A Standard', was taken long ago by the AFN board members.

"The era where Nigerian athletes get free money from the AFN and the Sports Ministry is over. You must work for whatever money you are getting.

"Athletes must be told the truth, that, if they work they will surely reap the fruit of their labour.

"I can also tell you that, only the 'A Standard' and some promising athletes in the 'B Standard' would make the Nigerian team to the Benin Republic Meet which is the final competition for African athletes to make the London 2012 Olympics."

The AFN boss noted that, the board members have also decided that, if the 4x100 metres relay teams fail to achieve the required 'A Standard' in Calabar and in Benin Republic, they will not be registered for the race at the Olympics.

Ogba stressed that, the AFN has started to practicalise the policy of athletes not having a free lunch again to the detriment of the country.

"At the moment, aside from the athletes getting a business class flight ticket, we have also accommodated the only five Nigerian athletes who have made the 'A Standard' from January till date, at the five-star Metropolitan Hotel in Calabar, while the rest are being accommodated at the Tinapa Resort.

The AFN president's insistence on giving the 'A Standard' athletes a first class treatment, is rubbing-off on former sprint queen, Damola Osayomi, who was not given a room at the prestigious Metropolitan hotel, because of her poor timing since the beginning of this year.

Chief Ogba also noted that, from all indications there are deliberate moves by some people in the IAAF to keep Nigerians out of the inner workings of the international federation.

"That is why I am calling on the country's Olympians to unite with one voice and take advantage of the relevant athletics courses so as to rise to desired heights in the IAAF.

"Those people who are occupying sensitive positions in the international federations in most cases are not better than our own Olympians. Maria Woophil who is in the Women's Committee of the IAAF came in through election and before Mary Onyali-Omagbemi could be admitted into another committee," he said.

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