Team Nigeria explains Oduduru’s absence from trip to Mauritius
The 22nd African Senior Athletics Championships will begin today in Mauritius without one of Africa’s top sprinters, Divine Oduduru, who holds Personal Bests of 9.86 seconds in 100 metres and 19.73 seconds in 200 metres.
Oduduru has been a delight to watch in the continent’s track and field since his days at Youth and Junior level, winning titles in all these categories. He is a two-time champion at the African Youth Athletics Championships and five-time African Junior champion in the sprints.
In 2013, Oduduru won the hearts of many athletics fans in Mauritius with a spectacular race to win the 200m, which catapulted Team Nigeria to the top of the medals table during the Africa Junior Championship.
Since he moved to the senior cadre, Oduduru has represented Nigeria at various international events, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and 2014 African Athletics Championships before winning the 200m silver medal at the 2015 African Games. He won a gold and silver for Nigeria at Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship. He was at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Oduduru has been missing from the athletics scene since the Tokyo Olympics, raising concern in some quarters since the involvement of his closest friend, Blessing Okagbare, in a drug scandal.
An official of Team Nigeria to Mauritius 2022 African Athletics Championships told The Guardian while on transit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, yesterday, that Oduduru could not make the trip due to a number of factors.
“First, we are yet to know why Oduduru decided to restrict himself to personal training in Sapele, Delta State since the Tokyo Olympics. Again, he has not participated in national events, such as the All Comers and the Classics this year. He has not also taken part in any international competition, including the many invitational competitions around Europe. So, it was difficult for Team Nigeria to include Oduduru in this trip to Mauritius,” the official stated.
Team Nigeria arrived in Mauritius late yesterday after a long trip through Dubai, as the entire contingent could not get enough seat in a South Africa-bound airline.
The official is confident that Nigeria, with a blend of first timers and established athletes, will have a decent outing in Mauritius.
“Many of our seasoned athletes are involved in the NCAA series in the U.S., holding concurrently with Mauritius 2022,” the official stated.
Efforts to speak with Oduduru, yesterday, were unsuccessful as several calls to his phone were not answered.
The championship will serve as preparations for Team Nigeria ahead of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, U.S., next month and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham towards the end of July.
Nigeria placed third on the medals table at the 21st African Championships with nine gold, five silver and six bronze medals behind Kenya (11, 6, 2) and South Africa (9, 14, 8).