Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, is worried over the growing number of marathon races in the country.
“We are in a country, where no one accounts for anything, and my major concern about this growing number of marathon races in Nigeria is for the innocent athletes, who will be subjected to rigorous training. They have no future advantage in this sport,” Adelabu, a sport scientist, told The Guardian, yesterday.
Adelabu said that even though marathon races will open up competition for more athletes’ participation, there are more negative sides to it, particularly for a nation like Nigeria that has its strength in the short sprints (100m, 200m, the jumps and relays).
“The question we should ask those turning the country into a marathon organising nation is, whether we have the capacity to provide the necessary performance factors at our disposal to produce competent athletes.
“You know that, generally, we think it is enough for us to participate or put up appearances in sports competitions and no one will question our motives. The government does not even understand the role of sports in national development,” Adelabu, who played club football with the IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan, stated.
Also speaking yesterday, proprietor of Cable Sports Academy, Coach Edwin Onovwotafe, said that it is time government stopped the growing number of marathon races in Nigeria.
“Sincerely speaking, marathon races are not Nigeria’s area of strength, and I feel those organising it in our country are only providing the funds for the Kenyans, Ethiopians and Ugandans to prepare themselves for major championships like the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and African Games, whereas, our area of strength (short sprints) are neglected.
“Between October 2022 to date, there have been several marathon or road races in various parts of Nigeria, including Bayelsa, Warri, Lagos and Jos. Other marathon races are being lined up in Abuja, Okpekpe in Edo State, Sagamu, Abeokuta and Remo in Ogun State.
“Surprisingly, both the government and some corporate organisations are embracing it blindly without thinking of how to empower our sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers.
“Since the commencement of this athletics season, only Gombe State has put up a programme for athletics event in the country. Other states are busy staging marathon races for the East Africans to sweep the dollar prize money. It is a great disservice to our nation.”
Onovwotafe said he was shocked when one of the marathon organisers explained that the New York Marathon in the U.S. has never been won by any American. “He has forgotten that America has put in place a system that takes care of other sporting events, including the sprints. I know very well that no governor in a true athletics-state like Delta will support this idea of turning Nigeria into a marathon organising nation.
“You dare not sell such bad idea to the people here. That is why Delta State will continue to dominate Nigeria athletics.”