US-Based Oduduru still angry with Nigeria over alleged poor treatment
Nigeria’s hottest male sprinter at the moment, US-based Divine Oduduru, may still be angry with the country over the treatment he and other foreign-based athletes received from the Nigerian government at the end of Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship.
Oduduru hit the headline of major newspapers across the world last week, when he ran a new 100m record of 9.94 seconds at the Michael Johnson Invitational in the United States of America.
The sprinter, a product of the youth programme carried out by the immediate past president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba after Team Nigeria failed at London 2012 Olympics, ran 9.94 seconds in the men’s 100m, Nigeria’s fastest since 2006 when Olusoji Fasuba ran a time of 9.85 seconds to set a new African record.
At the same meet, Oduduru also ran 19.76 seconds in the 200m to erase the former national record of 19.84 seconds set by Francis Obikwelu in 1999 at the World Championships in Seville Spain.Many athletics followers in Nigeria are of the view that Oduduru’s feat has put Nigeria in the radar of victory in the coming 2019 African Games in Morocco as well as Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games.
However, the sprinter is thinking otherwise. “I don’t have anything to say when it comes to Nigeria for now,” was Oduduru’s response to a question by The Guardian yesterday.At the end of the African Senior Athletics Championship in Asaba last year, the trio of Oduduru, jumper Ese Brume and hurdler Tobi Amusan cried aloud after they were paid a ‘paltry’ N107,000 allowance which they rejected.
Oduduru’s father died while he was competing at Asaba 2018, and as an athlete running for Nigeria, members of my family were expecting him to assist them financially in the burial plans.He sounded a note of warning to the government then saying: “Our government has to sit up before the country loses more talents.
He said: “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.“We were given just N107,000 as allowances for the duration of the championship. It was an insult. I, Ese Brume and Tobi Amusan 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.
“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 athlete because you cannot go to a river without a hook or 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,” Oduduru stated then.
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