Premium Times (Abuja)

Nigeria Goes Tough On Senior Athletes, Raises Bar for World Championships

In a bid to achieve some success in Athletics in 2013, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, has put forward stringent measures for the senior athletes aiming to qualify for the World Championships holding in Moscow, Russia, in August.

During a media parley with newsmen in Lagos, the AFN President, Solomon Ogba, said sprinters will be required to have run a time of 10.6 seconds and 11.20 seconds respectively in the men and women's 100m event to participate in the All-Nigeria/Cross River State Athletics Championships holding in July where the final team to Russia will be selected.

"The targets for the seniors this year will be very strict," Mr. Ogba stated.

"We have set high standards for qualification for the national trials. The men will have to run at least 10.6 in the 100m while that of women will be 11.85. They have time to meet the standards in the Golden League which will take place here or they can run in any competition in the world.

"We want to run a proper system back home. The period of qualification is from January 1 to June 30, 2013. The technical committee will also review such athlete's performance to ensure that he has been quite consistent in his achievements," he added.

During the interactive session, the AFN boss also said the federation will be cutting down drastically on its air tickets refund as a higher standard will be set for the elite athletes to enjoy a largess Mr. Ogba said is only unique to Nigeria

"For those abroad, the minimum standards they must run to be given a ticket to come for the trials is 10.15 and that of the women is 11.20 as this will give us the confidence that they will not go out in the first round of the World Championships.

"We have reviewed the issue of training grant and only athletes who are among the top 10 in the world will benefit because it means they will need a top coach, physiotherapist and so on.

"We will support those who make the IAAF 'A Standard but any one not in this category will have to buy a ticket to come for the trials. We have seen people run times that they never achieved before in the national trials and then falter in subsequent competitions and we don't want anyone to raise our hopes unnecessarily and then dash it when we don't expect," he said.

Nigeria has failed to win any medal at the World Championships in Athletics for over 13 years. The last time Nigeria made it to the podium was in Seville, Spain in 1999 when the duo of Gloria Alozie and Francis Obikwelu won silver and bronze medals for the country. The duo has since deserted Nigeria and taken Spanish and Portuguese citizenship respectively.

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