The new 100m record of 9.94 seconds by sprint sensation, Divine Oduduru at the Michael Johnson Invitational in the United States of America a few days ago has become a big inspiration for athletics followers in Nigeria.
Oduduru, a product of the youth programme carried out by the immediate past president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba after Team Nigeria failed at London 2012 Olympics, ran 9.94 seconds in the men's 100m, Nigeria's fastest since 2006 when Olusoji Fasuba ran a time of 9.85 seconds to set a new African record.
At the same meet, Oduduru also ran 19.76 seconds in the 200m to erase the former national record of 19.84 seconds set by Francis Obikwelu in 1999 at the World Championships in Seville Spain.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Ogba, whose administration as AFN president also produced the likes of Ese Brume, Tobi Amusan and Glory Onome Nathaniel, described Oduduru's feat as a dream come true.
He added that Oduduru would set more records in both the 100m and 200m this season.
Ogba recalled that Team Nigeria's unimpressive outing at the London 2012 Olympics triggered call for a new beginning in the nation's athletics. "We started re-positioning athletics immediately with the youth programme in Port Harcourt, which gave birth to Oduduru, Brume, Amusan, Nathaniel and others.
"In 2013, we took some of those athletes to the World Junior Athletics Championship in Ukraine, and the African Junior Championships in Mauritius. Some people in the sports ministry then accused the AFN of taking a 'Bendel Team' to those championships. It was wrong accusation. The sports ministry even refused to pay for those trips. Today, these athletes are Nigeria's major hopes in athletics. Many people will want to claim the glory now. I salute Oduduru for his achievements, and I am sure he will run faster this season because he is under the supervision of good coaches in USA," Ogba stated.
Former Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi also commended Oduduru yesterday for his feat, saying that his administration gave unprecedented support to athletics.
Meanwhile, Nigeria's contingent to the 2019 African U18/U20 Athletics Championship in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, returned home in the early hours of yesterday with 13 gold medals.