One of Nigeria’s greatest ever multi-eventers, Patience Itanyi, has sounded a note of warning to officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria(AFN) and the country in general not to over celebrate the recent feat achived by America-based athlete, Uhunoma Osazuwa, who broke her (Itanyi’s) 12-year-old 5,730 points national heptathlon record. For Itanyi, its not yet uhuru for Uhunoma and Nigeria if the target is to beat the best in the world.
”I was not happy with the 5730 points record I set 12 years ago because it neither fetched me a medal in global competitions nor made a force to be reckoned with.That is why most of my achievemnets came in single events like the long jump (6.54m) and 100m hurdles (13.35 seonds) where I made it to the quater-finals at both the 27th Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia and the 5th IAAF World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1995,” said Itanyi who last year was inducted into the West Virginia University,USA hall of fame for her unprecedented feats in collegiate athletics.
”So I feel Nigeria and Nigerians should not over celebrate it. Lets see how we can make Uhunoma better, make her reach at least the African record mark of 6423 points set by Ghana’s Margaret Simpson in 2005.Then we can start hoping for some kind of global recognition I did not get”.
“This is the time Nigeria should get involved in her programme. Whatever she has achieved now is solely through her personal effort and the fact that she is based in the USA. Must we always depend on America to produce world-class athletes?” asked Itanyi.
The new record
Osazuwa set a new 5,992 points national record at the Jim Click Combined Events in Tucson, Arizona in the United States of America to erase the record Itanyi set on June 4, 2000 in Arles. In erasing her own personal best of 5668 points set in Calabar last year during the All Nigeria/Cross River Athletics championships, Osazuwa set personal best of 13.43 seconds in the 100m hurdles, cleared a new life time height of 1.84m in the high jump, put a new 12.52m in the shot put and a wind-aided 23.79 seconds in the 200m.