Minister must stop ‘desperate’ coaches from Olympics, other trips, says Ogunkoya

Nigerian ex-Olympian, Falilat Ogunkoya. Photo: Brila


• ‘Nigerian athletes need world-class coaches to win medals Tokyo’
Former African 400m champion, Falilat Ogunkoya believes Nigerian athletes need world-class coaches to stand a chance of winning medals at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Team Nigeria returned from the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha with one medal, a bronze won by Ese Brume in the women’s long jump. For some Nigerians, the performance of Team Nigeria in Doha clearly showed the deficiency in the country’s athletics and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Ogunkoya, who was part of the trip to Doha, said some of the athletes like Brume, Tobi Amusan and Divine Oduduru have the prospect of winning medals for Nigeria at Tokyo 2020 Olympics. “The championship in Doha has given us the opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses of some of our athletes and I believe that athletes like Ese Brume, Tobi Amusan and Divine Oduduru stand a great chance of making the podium in Tokyo 2020. But the nation has a big role to play because they need the services of world-class coaches to achieve their dream.

“I don’t know how the sports minister will curb this menace in our sports, where coaches, who don’t have a single athlete in a team, are the ones selected for foreign trips. It is a big problem in Nigerian sports.

“In our days as athletes, it was not common to see such coaches in the camp whenever we travelled for major competitions. Now, coaches who have not produced a single athlete for the country are the ones in the delegation for major championships. They want to go to the African Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the Olympics. It is wrong.

“Now that the Doha championship has come and gone, our athletes should be categorised. All of them can’t be in the same group. There should be those in Group A, B and C. That was the practice in our days and it worked for the country. You have to give then standards to meet before making a particular trip. More importantly, all our top athletes need world-class coaches. “I am optimistic that our relay teams, 4x100m and 4x400m for both male and female stand the chance of making the podium in Tokyo 2020 Olympics. But our athletes need to go for a special baton exchange programme months ahead of the Games,” Ogunkoya stated.

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