The Managing Director of Abuja International Marathon (AIM) Zsuzsanna Ogunmiloyo, who is in Birmingham the host city of the 2022 Commonwealth Games to support the Team Nigeria contingent, on Sunday posited that Nigeria has what it takes to dominate athletics at the global level with a well-structured elite athlete development programme.
In a statement signed by Abuja International Marathon (AIM) Race Director Olukayode Thomas who also heads the Media and Publicity, Ogunmiloyo also commends Sports Minister Sunday Dare for prioritizing athletes’ welfare.
Ogunmiloyo, who moved from venue to venue, spent quality time with weightlifters and their coaches.
Her major takeaway is that Team Nigeria can dominate the sprints, quarter-mile, jumps, relays, hurdles and other events because the Caribbean countries and Americans that dominate those events today share similar traits with Southern Nigerians, while East Africans that dominate the middle, long distances and marathon share similar traits with Northern Nigerians.
‘’I believe that with a properly funded and well-monitored elite athlete development programme, Nigeria has what to dominate athletics in the world,’’ Ogunmiloyo said.
Using the men and women marathon as examples, Ogunmiloyo said Ugandan Victor Kiplangant’s winning time of 2;10 minutes would have been achieved by Nigeria if Nigerian marathoners got the needed support.
‘’The belief that Kenyans win all marathons is not true. The reason why they win most is that they have a good elite development programme and Kenyans see road races and marathons as a business.
“The winner of the men’s event is from Uganda, his winning time of 2;10 minutes is what our men can achieve if they had the support they needed. About 30 years ago, our men like Abass Muhammed and Yohanna Waziri were running 2;14. So, if in the last three decades we have proper elite development programmes, our men will be running 2;10 minutes and below.’’
Ogunmiloyo noted that five of the top ten finishers in the men’s event are not even from East Africa, saying: ‘’even in the women’s event, the winner Jessica Stenson is from Australia. She beat Kenyan Margaret Muriuki to win the gold medal and four of the top ten finishers in the women’s event are not from East Africa’’.
Ogunmiloyo, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Unicentral Resources Generation Limited, commends Team Nigeria for being in the top ten on the medal table.
‘’Being among the top ten in the Commonwealth is highly commendable. It is not an easy feat, I am proud to be a Nigerian and besides, we are the number one African nation on the medal table beating South Africa, Kenya, and others’’.
She also commends the Sports Minister, Chief Sunday Dare, for prioritizing athletes’ welfare.‘
“The athletes are happy that their allowances and other entitlements have been paid while medallists are rewarded immediately after medals are won. This is commendable I appreciate the good gesture,’’ said Ogunmiloyo.