AFN begins process to uncover medals prospects, disagrees with minister over camping
•Okagbare, others for final Olympics trails in Sapele
After finishing third at the just concluded African Senior Athletics Championships in Durban, South Africa, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) feels some of the nation’s athletes are not yet medal prospects in the coming Rio Olympic Games.
Following the alleged poor motivation in Durban blamed on the failure by the sports ministry to release funds for the contingent, Nigeria slipped to the third position behind South Africa and Kenya from its second in Morocco two years ago.
AFN President, Solomon Ogba, said yesterday in Lagos while appraising the performance of the team that majority of the athletes failed to win gold medal in Durban because they could not hit the mark they posted in qualifying for the Rio Olympics.
“We actually expected seven gold medals to finish second in Durban, but an athlete like Doreen Amata could not even repeat what she was jumping before now. Some of them qualified for the Rio Olympics Games since last year, but from what we saw in Durban, there is need for us to do away with all that. We have to separate the real contenders from pretenders for us to have hope of winning medals in Rio,” Ogba stated.
The AFN boss disclosed that all track and field athletes would converge in Sapele, Delta State for the final selection for the Rio Olympics between July 7 and 9.
“The period of this trials will be used for the Warri Relays,” Ogba said. “As we speak, South Africa, Ghana and other countries have confirmed their participation for the Warri Relays and it is good for us.”
According to him, over 20 US-based Nigerian athletes have purchased their tickets to be part of the trials in Sapele, adding that anyone who meets the qualification mark would be refunded the money he spent on coming down for the event.
Ogba debunked the sports minster’s claim that Nigerian athletes have completed the first phase of camping for the Rio Olympics, saying: “As far as athletics is concerned, we have not done any camping. I am saying this because 75 per cent of the athletes we are taking to Rio are not based in Nigeria.
If you gather three or four athletes somewhere and you call that first phrase of camping to us in AFN, that is not camping.”