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Our developmental programmes are working – AFN


LAGOS – The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Wednesday said that the success recorded in the track and field events at the ongoing Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, was the result of its development programmes.

The AFN Technical Director, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos said that the federation would adopt same strategy in preparing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“ At the federation level, we are not surprised about the success recorded so far by our athletes in the track and field events.

“We started a developmental programme two and a half years ago which has just produced a male silver medalist at the World Juniors in Oregon.

“The performance of Blessing Okagbare at the Commonwealth Games is an indication that in the next two years we should be in a position to compete favourably head to head with the likes of the Jamaicans.

“So far, so good. We are expecting more. It’s a clear sign that our strategy is working,’’ Omatseye told NAN on telephone from Glasgow.

NAN reports that Blessing Okagbare set the Games’ new record of 10.85 secs to win the gold medal in the 100m female event.

Omatseye, however, called on Nigerians to support the federation in its quest to be the world beater.

“We have always said that medals are not picked on the streets. It takes commitment, doggedness and risks to achieve success in sports.

“People are now celebrating this feat but before now our strategies were criticised. We will remain resolute in our strategic plan towards Rio 2016 Olympics.

“All we are asking for is the support and good wishes of Nigerians. We know what to do and the various strategies to apply are working for us,’’ Omatseye said.

The technical director commended Okagbare for her brilliant performance in the 100m. [eap_ad_1] “Some are quick to say that we only have one athlete. How many athletes does Jamaica have that make all the impact we hear about, they are not more than four,’’ Omatseye said.

Meanwhile, Enefiok Udo-Obong, a Sydney 2000 Olympics gold medalist, has said that Okagbare’s “stunning” performance proved that the country still has capacity to discover home-grown athletes.

Udo-Obong told NAN that Okagbare’s performance was exemplary and possessed the mark of a true patriot.

Okagbare’s feat smashed the12-year Games’ record of 10.91 secs set by Bahamas’ Debbie Ferguson in 2002 in Manchester.

“I am delighted with the outstanding performance of Okagbare.

“She is doing the country proud and proving that athletes discovered back home can be nurtured to perform at the biggest stages.

“I admire her passion for sports, I love her sense of patriotism and we can see how excited she felt bringing glory to her fatherland,” he said.

Udo-Obong, who also won bronze medal in the 4x400m relay in the 2004 Olympics Games in Athens, said that AFN must maintain a policy of grassroots talents discovery.

`It’s quite unfortunate that out of desperation we took some athletes to Glasgow who we aren’t even sure had ever stepped their foot in Nigeria.

“We can see so far that those athletes have gone with the competition. We have athletes at home that have the potential to perform at any level.

“All we must do is to put the right structures in place and prepare them early enough for championships. Okagbare is a product of a home-grown talents discovery,” he said.

Udo-Obong commended the overall performance of Team Nigeria so far in Glasgow and expressed optimism that the country would win more medalsin athletics.

NAN reports that the Games which started on July 23 will end on Aug. 3. (NAN)[eap_ad_4]

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