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Sudden postponement of Sports Festival could affect athletes psychologically, says Alozie

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Former Nigerian hurdler, Gloria Alozie says the decision by the Federal Government to postpone the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival with just three days to its commencement could have a psychological effect on the athletes.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday ordered the postponement of the fiesta as a precautionary move against the spread of the dreaded COVID-19. Many states are still counting their losses following the sudden postponement.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Alozie, who is one of the greatest athletes to emerge from the continent of Africa, said terminating an event with just three days to its commencement was not good enough. “To me, cancelling the National Sports Festival with less than three days to its commencement will surely affect the athletes psychologically. But on the other hand, the decision taken by the Federal Government to stop the Games was also good because it is only athletes, who are alive that take part in competitions.

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“The coronavirus is actually spreading dangerously across the world and it is good for our country to take a precautionary measure. The only problem I had with the cancellation was that it was too close to the commencement of the festival. They should have done that some weeks ago,” she stated.

Alozie, an athletics coach with the Making Of Champions (MoC), grabbed a silver medal for Team Nigeria in the 100m hurdles at the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games, losing the gold medal narrowly to Olga Shishigina of Kazakhstan. The national and African record of 12.74secs she set in the 100m hurdles at the African Games in Rabat, Morocco was intact for 20 years before Tobi Amusan lowered it with a new record of 12.68 seconds.

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At Makurdi ’96 edition of the National Sports Festival, Alozie emerged as one of the star athletes after winning a gold medal for Abia State in the 100m hurdles.

“That was the only National Sports Festival I attended before I left Nigeria,” she said. “In a way, the National Sports Festival is our own Olympic Games, and many athletes look up to it with a lot of excitement.

“I am sure a lot of athletes will be disappointed with the sudden postponement of the festival. But as I said, it is better to stay alive than to come in contact with the disease while competing at the Games. Our health should come first,” Alozie said.

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