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Egbunike bemoans Nigeria's Osaka shame

Nigeria's Olusoji Fasuba - Source: Nigeriasports.com Yomi Omogbeja (06/05/2007)

Former African 400m champion and Roma '87 world silver medallist, Innocent Egbunike, has lamented the deplorable condition he found the Nigerian team at the just concluded 11th IAAF world championships in athletics in Osaka, Japan.

Egbunike, who was in Osaka with the USA team as coach to Sydney 2000 Olympic 400m champion Angelo Taylor, recounted his experience in a write-up for the Nigerian Thisday newspaper.

He explained that 20 years down the line the lack of organisarion, forward planning and mediocrity of the Nigerian athletics officials has not abated, but instead has got much worse.

More harrowing for the former African champion is the fact that the officials seem incapable to get the simplest things right - athletes were not registered on time for their events, the team do not have uniform kits and even they flew into the venue of the games on the day of their events.

According to Egbunikle: " I went to the call room to verify if Nigeria was entered in the 400m and what I heard brought tears to my eyes.

"The IAAF official I met in the call room recognised me and said: 'Mr. Egbunike, where is the Nigerian team? Do you know that your countryman, the African record holder in the 100m, was not entered in the 100meters?'

"As I tried to respond, he went on to tell me that if it were not for the efforts of Fasuba's manager, he would have not competed in the 100m at the World Championships. This official then told me that the Nigerian Quarter-milers came in the day before.

"As I tried to digest his comments, he asked me what was wrong with Nigeria. A track and field historian, this man lamented about the 1983 World University Games in Edmonton, Canada."

"In his words: 'Nigeria used to compete at the same level as the USA when it came to the sprints and jumps. He remembered how Nigeria beat the USA at their game that year.

"Chidi Imoh won the 100m, Innocent Egbunike the 200m, Sunday Uti the 400m, Yusuf Ali the long jump and Ajayi Agbebaku the triple jump, the 1984 4 x 4 bronze medal performance and my silver medal at the 2nd World Championships, Roma 87.'

"He paused and then asked me what each of the individuals he mentioned above were doing now and why Nigeria does not involve them in their track and field programmes. The official said he remembered when races used to be won between Nigeria, USA, Great Britain, Jamaica and Canada.

"As I walked away from him, I lost all my excitement and my heart immediately became heavy. I started praying that his story that the athletes came a day before their event was not true.

"In 1987, Nigeria flew me from Los Angeles to New York, New York to Lagos, Nigeria and finally Lagos to Nairobi, Kenya for the African Games. I remember getting to Nairobi the morning of my event to find out that there were no room arrangements made for me.

"I went to the officials after my first round in the 400m to find out that they did not have any room for me. At that point, I realised my battle was not against flesh and blood, but the powers and principalities of darkness.

"I laid a mattress on the floor of my teammates and slept there throughout the duration of the competition. What surprised me was how the same officials who did not provide me my accommodations took all the glory for my performance."

"That was 20 years ago. Now in 2007, it is the same story. What a shame. In Nigeria, we have a saying, "pray and do your best to make sure your children surpass your success so they don't go through what you went through," he added.

Click here for the complete story 'Failure to plan is a plan to fail' from ALL AFRICA.COM

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Related links

International Amateur Athletics Federation

African Athletics Confederation

Athletics Federation of Nigeria

11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Osaka, JPN



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Last updated: 28-Sep-2007 3:01 AM

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