The Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) have allegedly snubbed a Kenyan long distance runner, Ronny Kipkoech Kiboss, who had apparently agreed to switch allegiance from representing his country and instead compete under the green-and-white flag.
This much has been disclosed exclusively to Mega Sports by an athletics agent and sponsor, IzuchukwuUdegbunam, who lamented how his ward had even adopted a Nigerian name (Kayode), but was shunned on several occasions by the immediate past board of the AFN.
Udegbunam, who is also the president of BunuBunu Sports Limited, a private athletes’ management and sourcing venture, said the situation became more painful for him when Kiboss returned to Nigeria early this year to run under the banner of Kenya.
He recounted how pained he was seeing ‘Kayode’ emerge runner-up in the 2017 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon in a time of 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds, but Nigeria lost the chance of taking glory for the feat.
Udegbunam disclosed that’Kayode’ is only one of many other athletes from Nigeria and some neighbouring countries he has been able to discover and groom, with a long list of many he says have won laurels during long distance races in China and other Asian countries.
“I love what I am doing,” he retorted, “but I have not been encouraged by anyone in the AFN or ministry of sports.
“Many of my athletes have won big races in China, Japan, Korea and other countries like that, but nobody is talking about them.
“We keep saying we don’t have athletes in this country who can win long distance races and marathon, but that is not true. There are many young talents that are being overlooked.
“We even had Kayode, who came from Kenya and was ready to run for Nigeria, but they kept on snubbing him, until he returned to his country in frustration.
“To show that he was ready to run for Nigeria, Kayode even got a Nigerian international passport.
“What else was the proof they needed that he was serious about switching from Kenya to Nigeria? But none cared to consider him for the national camp.
“Imagine, he then came back her for the Lagos Marathon, and placed second. Imagine what glory would have come to Nigeria had he run that race for this country. Very sad.”