Former Nigerian top runner, Gloria Alozie, apologised Tuesday for taking up Spanish nationality at the expense of Nigeria’s, at the height of her career in 2000.
Alozie represented Nigeria at the Olympics in 2000 and was undoubtedly one of the world’s fastest sprinters, at some point, beaten only by US’ Marion Jones.
Her compatriot and former Olympian also, Francis Obikwelu, also switched sides to Portugal.
The duo, who was in Lagos for the Top Sprinter Genesis, a talent hunt initiative targeted at raising new athletics stars for Nigeria, told journalists that they were happy with the new opportunity to give back to Nigeria.
They promised to help groom new track and field champions who will surpass the marks they made for Nigeria and their adopted countries.
“What happened has happened, I’m here to give 150 per cent to help produce champions for Nigeria. We can produce athletes that can win medals at the Olympics.” Obikwelu, whose 1999 Nigerian record in 200m has not been matched not let alone broken, said.
He added: “If you give me an athlete that is not well known, in the next one year I guarantee that I can make him run faster. I’m here to produce athletes that will break my Nigerian record in 200m.”
On her part, Alozie first apologised for “dumping” Nigeria for Spain with a promise that she would make up by helping to unearth new stars through the ‘The Top Sprinter Genesis’ initiative.
Alozie said, “It was after I changed my nationality that I really knew what I had done. I went to Spain as a junior and I was still young so I did not really know what I was doing.
“I’m really sorry I changed. I didn’t really see it that way. But thank God I’m back and I promise to make amends. I’m here to produce another Gloria Alozie, who can win medals for Nigeria.”
Speaking more on the The Top Sprinter Genesis grand finale billed for Lagos from October 1-3, Bambo Akanni, CEO of Making of Champions, the organisers of the Talent Hunt programme said it was high time private and corporate bodies took on the challenge of nurturing talents for the country as Federations like the AFN cannot do it alone.
Mr. Akanni said it was pleasing to have Gloria Alozie and Francis Obikwelu, as well as other Olympic medallists, Deji Aliu and Uchenna Emedolu, on board.
He said the former stars will supervise over 250 Athletes from across Nigeria already registered for the event scheduled to hold at Teslim Balogun Stadium.