Nigerian athletes look beyond medals

As action gets underway on Wednesday at the 18th edition of African 

Athletics Championships in Port Novo, Benin Republic, Nigerian athletes 

who are yet to meet the ‘A’ standard of the 2012 London Olympics have 

promised to throw in their all to secure qualification for the Games 

even as they also jostle for the medals on offer.

For some of them who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES before departing the 

shores of the country, winning medals alone won and missing out on the 

Olympics won’t

be fulfilling for them.

President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba, 

maintains that only athletes that meet the A standard will be given 

opportunity to compete for Nigeria at the London Olympics thus making 

victory alone at the just concluded national trials in Calabar 

inadequate.

Eyes on London

Biola Onakoya, winner of the 400m men’s event in Calabar is one those 

chasing Olympic qualification in Benin Republic. In a chat with PREMIUM 

TIMES, Onakoya said the Benin Championships is a make or mar event for 

him.

“My dream as an athlete is to one day compete at the highest level 

which is the Olympics. I believe I will get the A standards in Benin, I 

ran inside 45secs in Calabar, I just need to run a little bit faster to 

make the mark,” Onakoya who is now based in U.S said.

Apart from Onakoya and the other quatermilers, the likes of Damola 

Osayomi, former African 100m champion, who was simply awful at the 

Calabar national trials, will be attempting to make the best use of this 

last chance availed them.

The 4x400m men’s, Heptathlon, triple jump, 200m, and 110m hurdles are 

some events where some of the country’s athletes are still seeking to 

make the A standards.

Each event of the Olympics has both A and B qualification standards but 

the AFN said it will be sticking with athletes that make the A’s as they 

stand a

better chance of representing the country well in London.

“We are not going for a jamboree in London. So, we are going with 

athletes that we are sure they will at least get to the semi finals of 

their events,” Mr. Ogba said.

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