Nigeria’s chances at medals in marathon races slim, says U.S.-based Sule Alli
United States-based former 800m runner, Sule Alli, has advised Nigerian sports administrators to focus on sponsoring short sprint and other events that would be of benefit to the country instead of ‘wasting resources’ on long-distance and marathon events.
In his active days as an athlete, Alli dominated the 800m, winning several medals in the U.S. Collegiate Games. He was invited to Nigeria in the build up to Los Angeles ’84 Olympics Games. But while at their National Institute for Sports (NIS) camp in Lagos with other athletes, one of the worst tragic incidents in the nation’s sports history happened.
Another U.S.-based athlete, a sprinter, Ndubuisi Dele Udo, was shot dead by a police officer during an argument around Ojuelegba area of Lagos. That tragic killing of Udo, who was then a 400m collegiate champion at the University of Missouri, was a rude shock to Sule Alli.
He returned to the U.S. and never honoured any invitation from Nigeria till he retired from track and field.
Now, Alli, who resides in Mississippi, is into track and field business and has entered a partnership with former Green Eagles captain, Segun Odegbami, to stage an athletics championship in memory of the great American athlete, Lee Evans, who died and was buried in Nigeria in 2021.
Speaking with The Guardian from his base in Mississippi, yesterday, Alli advised Nigerian sports administrators to focus more in building a strong track base for the younger generation, particularly, in short-distance events like 100m, 200m, jumps and relays.
“Nigeria, as a West African country, should not waste resources on long-distance and marathon races,” Alli said. “As a former athlete, I believe that the best way to build a sold foundation for Nigerian athletics is to sponsor more sprint events that will strengthen the nation’s 100m, 200m, 400m, jumps and relays.
Spending so much on road races and marathon events won’t help the country because no matter how best Nigeria prepare a long-distance runner, he or she can never win a medal on the international stage. It is a huge waste of resources.”