Tuesday, 28th March 2023
<To guardian.ng
Breaking News:

AFN’s Performance Director targets better outing at Oregon 2022

By Gowon Akpodonor
30 March 2022   |   2:41 am
After leading Team Nigeria to the World Indoor championships podium for the first time in 14 years in Belgrade last week, the Performance Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria

Silver medallist Nigeria’s Ese Brume poses during the podium ceremony of the women’s long jump final on the third day of The World Athletics Indoor Championships 2022 at the Stark Arena, in Belgrade, on March 20, 2022. (Photo by pedja milosavljevic / AFP)

‘Silver medal in Belgrade, a big boost’

After leading Team Nigeria to the World Indoor championships podium for the first time in 14 years in Belgrade last week, Performance Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), U.S.-based Victor Okorie says the Federation is doing everything possible to ‘harvest’ more medals in this year’s World Athletics Championship tagged ‘Oregon 2022.’

The World Indoor Championship in Belgrade, Serbia, where a long jumper, Ese Brume, captured a silver medal, was the first major assignment for Okorie since his appointment as AFN Performance Director.

Speaking with The Guardian from his base in the United States on his return from Belgrade, Okorie, a former 400m hurdler, stated that the focus of AFN was on parading medals prospect athletes at the fast-approaching World Championship in Oregon, USA.

The World Championship, the biggest event for athletics, will hold between July 15 and 24, 2022.

Okorie, a silver medalist for Team Nigeria at Abuja 2003 All African Games in the 400m hurdles, stated that athletes, who qualify to fly the nation’s flag at Oregon 2022, would be given adequate preparations.

“I am so excited about our performance at the World Indoors in Belgrade,” Okorie said. “It is a sign of better things to come this year. Now, our focus has shifted to the World Athletics Championship in Oregon, and the AFN is doing everything possible to ensure that our athletes get the best of preparation that will lead to success.”

Okorie described as ‘wonderful’ the experience of guiding Brume to a silver medal at the World Indoor Championship in Belgrade.

In Belgrade, Okorie combined well with two Nigerian coaches who made the trip from Nigeria, former hurdler and jumper, Seigha Porbeni and former sprinter, Endurance Ojokolo.

While Okorie flew in alongside debutant jumper, Ruth Usoro, from the U.S., the duo of Porbeni and Ojokolo joined the athletes in Belgrade late, due to visa delay in Lagos.

Okorie praised the efforts of AFN President, Tonobok Okowa and Secretary-General, Adeniyi Beyioku, in ensuring the coaches made the trip to Belgrade after two days of delay in Lagos.

“In the past, the coaches would have missed the opportunity of making the trip to Belgrade, and it would have affected the performance of the athletes. I commend Okowa for his efforts.”

Okorie also showered encomium on Ese Brume for the trust she had in the coaches to guide her to victory.

He spoke about what happened on the final day of the competition in Belgrade. “As a Performance Director, I played a role in calming Ese Brume down from the tension that is synonymous with competitors of such magnitude. I had to pass some of the information required through Porbeni and Ojokolo, and I am happy it paid off in a big way.

While Brume grabbed a silver medal with a leap of 6.85m personal season’s best, which returned Nigeria to the World Indoor championships podium for the first time since Olusoji Fasuba raced to 60m gold in Valencia in 2008, Ruth Usoro set a new personal season’s best of 6.69m, to place eighth in the final classification, a huge lift for the 24-year-old athlete.

The Nigerian 4x400m relay team could not make it to the final despite running a personal season’s best time of 3:09.55.