In a few months time, it would be 14 years since Nigerian sprinter Olusoji Fasuba set an African record in the 100m event.
The 9.85s mark achieved by Fasuba in Doha on May 2006 makes him the fastest African runner ever.
While he understandably enjoys this great honour, Fasuba who has since joined the British Royal Navy reveals he is pained others are finding it difficult to surpass his impressive mark several years after.
He also speaks on why he quit athletics abruptly and other issues around the sports…
PT: It’s been some years that you retired from athletics, what have you been up to and do you agree in any way with those that argue that you left the sports quite prematurely
Fasuba: I would truly admit that I stopped running quite early. As at the time I stopped, I was angry and frustrated and just wanted to forget all about athletics so I could pursue a career in the Royal Navy where I am now.
My retirement did come early and I admit it because I knew I still had a lot left in me when I chose to retire.
When I look back at most of my achievements and the sacrifices I made for the country (Nigeria), it hit me hard that I had done a lot with virtually nothing to show back from the country in terms of what I can fall back on when I want to retire.
So I decided I had to secure my future and that was why I started another career (in the Royal Navy) while I was still young.
PT: Proudly you remain Africa’s fastest man ever, how does that make you feel
Fasuba: I feel very proud but sad at the same time because if my record after almost 14 years has not been matched or broken, it means we as African nations are not progressing the way we should.
PT: Though some of have come quite close, your record is still standing, why has it been so difficult to equal or break your record
Fasuba: Things are changing now and we now have more 9-sec runners with more coming from our great Nation Nigeria.
It is quite hard to predict the circumstances affecting the athletes because of the generation changes that would have happened as well as the current problems they are having in the athletic world.
PT: Looking at the present crop of athletes in Africa, who do you tip to break your record soonest
Fasuba: I have a lot of faith and believe in our current sprinters both at home and abroad. To pin point any one of them as the likely candidate to break that record is really hard because they are all improving greatly and I see better days to come and the record falling soon.
That said, I think the athletes should be preoccupied with getting medals in the championships ahead of record or no record.
PT: After a long wait, Nigerian sprinters are now running sub 10 in 100m. How do you feel about that and what can be done to sustain the tempo
Fasuba: With the quality of athletes around, what I can say is that these athletes don’t run on pure water in their body. The country needs to invest in its assets and this is the time to do it.
In summary, these athletes need the money and not just peanuts to keep improving.
PT: The crisis in Athletics Federation of Nigeria; what is your advice especially as we are in a crucial year for Olympics
Fasuba: The crisis is unfortunate and should not have happened at all in the first place. For now, I believe the new president will now do a good job in trying to bring athletics back to the glory days.
PT: Any plans to go into coaching or administration in athletics anytime soon
Fasuba: I see myself in the distant future trying to go into administration but for now, I have no immediate dream to do that.
PT: What do you miss most since quitting Athletics
Fasuba: I miss the thrill of standing at the start line not knowing what I could do that day but hoping a surprise would happen so I could make my country and family proud.
PT: What do have to say to your fans across the globe
Fasuba: To all my fans out there, I want to thank them for the support I got from them when I competed, for the support I got when I finally retired till date. They have been wonderful.
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