The managing director of Abuja International Marathon (AIM), Zsuzsanna Ogunmiloyo, believes Nigeria has what it takes to dominate athletics at the global level with a well-structured elite athlete development programme.
Ogunmiloyo who was in Birmingham to support the Team Nigeria at the just concluded 2022 Commonwealth Games, said Nigeria can dominate the sprints, quarter-mile, jumps, relays, hurdles and other events since the Caribbean countries and Americans that are excelling in the 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.
AIM boss in a statement signed by Olukayode Thomas, AIM race director and head of media and publicity, also commends Sports Minister Sunday Dare for prioritizing athletes’ welfare.
“I believe that with properly funded and well-monitored elite athlete development programmes, Nigeria has what it takes to dominate athletics in the world.
“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,’’ said Ogunmiloyo.’
Using the men and women marathon as examples, Ogunmiloyo said Ugandan Victor Kiplangant’s winning time of 2;10 minutes would have been achieved by Nigeria if we support Nigerian marathoners
“The belief that Kenyans win all marathons is not true. The reason why they win most is that they have a good elite development programme and Kenyans see road races and marathons as a business.
“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,” Ogunmiloyo stated.
She observed that five of the top ten finishers in the men’s event are not even from East Africa, saying; ‘’Even in the women’s event the winner Jessica Stenson is from Australia. She beat Kenyan Margaret Muriuki to win the gold medal and four of the top ten finishers in the women’s event are not from East Africa.”
Ogunmiloyo, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Unicentral Resources Generation Limited, commends Team Nigeria for finishing in the top ten on the medal table.
‘’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’’.