The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) seminar for track and field coaches in the country got off to a brilliant start yesterday at the Media Centre of the National Stadium in Lagos with most resource persons suggesting ways to return Nigeria to winning ways at the next Olympics in Brazil.
Technical Director of the AFN, Navy Capt. Omatseye Nesiama in his opening remark at the coaches’ forum/clinic observed that whatever preparation that the country may undertake for the Rio de Janeiro Olympiad must begin to produce results at the 2015 World Championships, a year ahead of the games.
While giving a synopsis of AFN’s ‘Project Rio 2016, the serving navy captain insisted that Nigeria cannot afford another failure following the country’s poor showing at the last Games in London.
“The next four years which represents the next Summer Olympics cycle to the Rio Games in Brazil will be the main cycle path of the project. The test of the project’s success or otherwise would be the 2015 Athletics World Championships in Beijing, China. If we cannot begin to see results for our preparations by then, we have to forget any expectation of a good outing at the next Olympic Games,” he noted.
He admitted that as part of the federation’s plans, a high performance centre has been programmed for University of Port Harcourt.
“Therefore, there is the need for the National Sports Commission (NSC) to support the immediate commitment of funds for the setting up and take off of the IAAF approved High Performance Centre at the University of Port Harcourt. Its urgent establishment will have a major effect on the actualisation of the ideals of Project Rio,” stressed.
Earlier, Director (Technical) of Lagos State Sport Council, Prince Ladigbolu who represented the state’s Sports Commissioner for Sport praised AFN for engaging the coaches in such productive way to refresh their knowledge.
“However, I want to say that it is no longer time to return to the drawing board but to go back to the grassroots to fish for fresh talents. I was in charge of Lagos athletics for five years and so know what I am talking about,” stressed the Lagos sports council official.
The AFN seminar which is for all active and practising coaches in Nigeria continues today and is expected to end with a communiqué on Saturday.
A Nigeria-born UK Athletics Coach, Michael Afilaka who is the coach of UK teenage sprinter and World Junior 100m champion, Adam Gemili, will today lead the pack of other resource persons that include IAAF Instructors, Coach Rotimi Obajimi and Dr Elias Gora.