Nigerian athletes need ex-internationals to excel at African Games, says Ogunkoya
Nigerian ex-Olympian, Falilat Ogunkoya says Team Nigeria needs the services of ex-internationals to do well at the fast-approaching 2019 African Games holding in Morocco.
Since she retired from active service, Ogunkoya has been canvassing support for Nigerian athletes, the recent being her call to top businessmen and women in the country to extend their cash support to the athletes, the same way they rally around the Super Eagles and other football teams during major competitions.
In her days as an athlete, Ogunkoya won a number of national and international championships, including a bronze medal in the 400m at Atlanta ’96 Olympics, where she ran a personal best and African record of 49.10 seconds, which is currently the 12th fastest of all time. She was a gold medalist in the 400m at Jo’burg ’99 All African Games.
Speaking with The Guardian in Lagos, Ogunkoya lamented the exclusion of ex-athletes in Team Nigeria’s contingent to the African Games, which holds from August 19-31 in Morocco.
“If the sports ministry is taking up to 450 athletes to the African Games, there is nothing wrong in including at least 10 ex-athletes on the list. Our athletes will benefit greatly from our advise at the Games. They need the ‘pep talk’ at competition venues. The sports ministry should also make sure that some coaches who are helping the athletes in their various locations should be included on the trip to Morocco.
“The African Games is not a place for politicians to show off. It is a place for the athletes and their coaches to fight for medals. An athlete like Ese Brume, who jumped 7.05m last week in Turkey should be in Morocco with her coach. His presence will inspire Brume to put in her best. That is the practice in other places,” Ogunkoya stated.