U.S.-based sprinter, Oduduru spits fire, alleges neglect by government
Nigeria’s hottest male sprinter at the moment, U.S.-based Divine Oduduru has expressed his displeasure over the manner he was treated by Nigerian government at the recently concluded Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship.
Oduduru, who ran 20.60 seconds to win a silver medal for Team Nigeria in the 200m, told The Guardian from his base in Texas, United States, yesterday that the treatment given to him and other foreign-based athletes at the end of the championship was ‘shameful.’ He is threatening not to honour invitation from Nigeria next year unless ‘things change’.
In April this year, 21-year-old Oduduru broke the Texas Tech 14-year 100m record at the Michael Johnson Invitational in the United States by running a personal best time of 10.10 seconds to win the 100m race. He had earlier broken the school’s 20-year-old record in the 200m, thus establishing himself as Nigeria’s hottest leg at the moment.
“You don’t treat athletes this way and expect them to honour your invitation next time. The Asaba 2018 Championship was an international event and we were supposed to be treated that way. My father died while I was competing at Asaba 2018, and as an athlete running for Nigeria, members of my family are expecting me to assist them financially in the burial plans. But I can’t do so because we were given just N107,000 as allowances for the duration of the championship. It was an insult. I, Ese Brume, Tobi Amusan and Blessing Okagbare had to reject it.
“Before my season got to this stage, no official of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) called me. They will only reach out to you when it is time for competition. Nobody cares how you are surviving, and how you are taking care of your career. It is not so with athletes from other countries. My father will be buried on October 12 in Ughelli, and as we speak, I don’t have anything to contribute towards the funeral. My dad was a titled man, and his burial will involve a lot of money. I am really sad at the moment,” he lamented.
Speaking further, Oduduru, a former African junior champion in both the 100m and 200m, said: “Next year will be very important in my school athletics career, and I don’t think I will be available for the national trials in Nigeria. I think our government should have a rethink on how to reposition athletics. The various corporate organisations have a role to play too because you cannot go to a river without a hook or a fishing net, but expect to catch a fish. Our government is paying lip service to athletics, and it must change before serious preparation starts for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”