The Managing Director of Abuja International Marathon (AIM), Zsuzsanna Ogunmiloyo, said Nigeria has what it takes to dominate athletics at the global level with a well-structured elite athlete development programme.
The AIM boss, who is in Birmingham the host city of the ongoing 2022 Commonwealth Games to support the Team Nigeria contingent, however commended the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, for prioritizing athletes’ welfare which resulted in their best outings at the competition.
According to Ogunmiloyo, Team Nigeria can dominate the sprints, quarter-mile, jumps, relays, hurdles and other events because the Caribbean countries and Americans that dominate those events today share similar traits with Southern Nigerians, while East Africans that dominate the middle, long distances and marathon share similar traits with Northern Nigerians. She said if given the chance and necessary backing with proper funding, Nigerian athletes can dominate the marathon.
“I believe that with a properly-funded and well-monitored elite athlete development programme, Nigeria has what to dominate athletics in the world. The winner of the men’s event is from Uganda; his winning time of 2:10 minutes is what our men can achieve if they had the support they needed. About 30 years ago, our men like Abass Muhammed and Yohanna Waziri were running 2:14. So, if in the last three decades we have proper elite development programmes, our men will be running 2;10 minutes and below.”
She also commended Team Nigeria for being in the top ten on the medal table saying it is not a mean feat to finish 7th overall out of more than 70 participating countries.
‘”Being among the top ten in the Commonwealth is highly commendable. It is not an easy feat, I am proud to be a Nigerian and besides we are the number one African nation on the medal table beating South Africa, Kenya, and others. The athletes are happy that their allowances and other entitlements have been paid while medallists are rewarded immediately. This is commendable. I really appreciate the good gesture,” Ogunmiloyo added.