Nigeria has wasted a generation of athletes, Solomon Ogba laments

Solomon Ogba, the President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria

Immediate past president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba is sad over the failure of the country to send a team of junior athletes to both the 2017 CAA African Junior Championships in Algeria and the 10th IAAF World U-18 Championships in Kenya.

The 2017 CAA African Junior Championships in Algeria was held from June 29 to July 2 without Team Nigeria. And beginning from today, the 10th, and final edition of the IAAF World U-18 Championships will commence in Kenya, with no sign of Nigerian athletes taking part in it. The championships in Kenya, which will run from July 12 to 16 at the Moi Sports Complex in Kasarani, will be the last edition, as the IAAF Council has decided it will discontinue the youth championships after this year’s edition.

Ogba, who is also on the board of the yet-to-be-inaugurated AFN body, told The Guardian in a telephone chat that the failure to present a team of junior athletes in the two championships would play a damaging role in the country’s athletics for years to come.

“After Team Nigeria’s disappointing outing at the London 2012 Olympics Games, the AFN under my leadership decided to channel our energy on youth development programmes, and it yielded good fruits for the country,” Ogba stated. “The likes of Divine Oduduru, Ese Brume, Omeiza Akerele, Harry Chukwudike, Mamus Emuobonuvie, Tega Odele, Nkiruka Uwakwe, Ade Benjamin and Rita Ossai, who are the country’s best athletes today were products of our junior programmes. And apart from Blessing Okagbare, all other athletes who have qualified for the London 2017 World Senior Athletics Championships are those from the junior ranks. Now that Nigeria can’t sponsor an U-18 team to the Africa and World junior championships, it means a generation of athletes have been wasted.”

igeria’s absence at Algeria 2017 CAA African Junior Championships was the first time in 10 years after missing the 2007 edition held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. And the failure to present a team at the IAAF U-18 championship in Kenya will be the first time in 20 years Nigeria’s flag will be missing in continental athletics contest. This is the second time the IAAF World Youth Championships will be hosted in Africa after Morocco hosted it in 2005.

Nigeria’s U-18 athletes have been in camp in Abuja for weeks preparing for the World championship. AFN secretary-general Amaechi Akawo, refused to comment yesterday when contacted by The Guardian.

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