Despite the not too pleasant news from Team Nigeria, the fact cannot be wished away that, athletics, since the inauguration of the Chief Tonobok Okowa -led board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), last year, has blossomed to lofty heights with streak of successes at the global stage.
Little wonder Chief Okowa is still revelling in cloud 9 weeks after the Sterling performances by our athletes in the United States and England respectively.
But the journey commenced in earnest soon after the board’s inauguration when our athletes, at the world junior athletics championship in Nairobi, Kenya posted a wonderful performance to be counted among the stars at the podium.
And the beat goes on and on with the athletes particularly Golden Girls, Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume, making hay at the Diamond meets where they are confirming their status as champions in world athletics.
The AFN president who is also the Executive Chairman, Delta State Sports Commission, who described the historic performances as the Lord’s doing, also hinged it to the board’s plan of action for athletes and coaches that bordered on welfare programme as well as creating a platform for. a cordial working relationship by all the parties.
Okowa, at a recent media parley in Asaba, Delta state, explained that the AFN board did not pay lip service to the welfare of athletes and coaches but backed it’s word with action by the settlement of their needs.
Similarly, the AFN created an atmosphere for interaction resulting in the feat at Oregon and Birmingham with Tobi breaking the world record twice in the 100mh at Oregon.
But, it was at the CWG that athletics made a difference contributing a princely six gold out of the 12 won by Team Nigeria.
Okowa while explaining the achievements said the AFN was working closely with the coaches in the US where it’s performance director is domiciled. This is in addition to sponsorship deals for the athletes.
Also speaking on the not too impressive performance at those showpiece by our male athletes, Okowa pleaded for patience stating the boys who are in their teens and making their debut needed time to garner experience for a podium finish in future.