Why Nigerian athletes are struggling – Chioma Ajunwa

Nigerian Olympic champion, Chioma Ajunwa, has blamed the decline in Nigeria’s dominance in athletics to the lack of programs to identify and nurture young talents.

“The problem is huge,” Ajunwa, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, told journalists on Saturday while attending a Justice Summit organised by the St Matthew Catholic Church, Amukoko, Lagos.

“Here in Nigeria, we have not imbibed the culture of getting them young because we know that the young shall grow. When we know the importance of going to the grassroots, then we’ll be able to get a lot of athletes to represent this country.

“It’s only Lagos State that is trying, to have competitions for children, youth, everybody, but other states are still sleeping.”

Ajunwa, a gold medal winner in Long Jump at the Atlanta 96 Olympics, said athletes who eventually switch to other countries to compete for them should not be blamed.

“The truth of the matter is this; the condition in this country is so inimical to everybody. To the extent that everybody wants to see how he or she can make it in life. And it’s difficult for me or somebody else to go and tell these athletes ‘Don’t go there.’

“When you know that when they get there, that is where they can get money to feed their families. And, again, when they are here it looks as if nothing is happening. The moment they leave this country, six months, they become world champions.

“So how then could you tell such people ‘Don’t go’?” It’s difficult. And we don’t care because we believe that we have them many. So it’s a very dicey situation.”

The Olympian said she would not dissuade any athlete from switching nationalities and participating for other countries.

“During my own time, the country (Portugal) was calling me, I refused, and another girl switched over,” she said.

“So that is the thing, if you don’t want it, I want it. Everybody wants to make it in life and Nigeria is not helping them, so they can go elsewhere. And when they start doing well, we now become envious of them.

“I didn’t regret it (not dumping Nigeria). I’m a patriotic Nigerian, but you don’t expect everybody to be patriotic.”


PT Mag Campaign AD

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.


TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...

NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.