Nigeria’s greatest marathon athlete of all time, Abbas Mohammad, is not comfortable with the risk being taken by the nation’s athletes, saying that their involvement in multiple Marathon races may cause sudden death.

From mid 1980s till the late 1990s, there was, perhaps, no more beloved and famous marathoner in Nigeria and the entire West Africa sub-region than Mohammed. He was almost the sole reason many Nigerians followed long distance races then. For almost three decades, Mohammed’s national record of 2:16:06 seconds, which he set on September 11, 1990 at a full marathon race in Lagos, remains unbroken.

Apart from dominating the national scene, Mohammed was able to stamp his authority at the international level, competing with world’s best marathoners at the Seoul ’88 Olympic Games, Rome ’95 World Military Games in Italy, as well as the 1997 Summer Universiade Games held in Italy’s famous city of Sicily. He also participated in the Great London Marathon in 1981 and the Los Angeles ’86 Marathon.

The marathon legend, who is currently Director of Sports, Nigerian Army in Borno State, said athletes engaging and competing in multiple full marathon races in a year risk sudden death. He said, “Training alone takes a lot from an athlete, then the actual competition. Most Nigerian athletes don’t have experienced nutritionists and therefore train and compete without good preparation. This could lead to sudden death.”

Mohammed, who was one of the Coaches from Army University that participated in the Training the Trainer seminar held in Gombe State during the week said it is dangerous having an athlete take part in more than three full marathon races in one year as it could lead to sudden death. “I’m one of the foremost marathon runners in Nigeria, and I have the experience to advise up-and-coming runners on how to deal with multiple long-distance races for their own good. I discovered that owing to more money in these races nowadays, athletes are lured into participating in more than three races per year without considering the health implications.”

The Guardian recalls that last week, head coach of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Seigha Porbeni, said marathon races in Nigeria is exposing athletes to health hazards. His position was shared by sports scientist, former international, Adegoke Adelabu and the Proprietor of Cable Sports Academy, Coach Edwin Onovwotafe.

Nigeria, a country known for producing world beaters in the short distance races lime 100m, 200m, jumps and relays has suddenly become a marathon organising nation with the government and corporates putting resources in all manner of races for Kenyans and Ethiopians to sweep up the prize money.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive officer, Nilayo sports Management, organisers of Access bank Lagos city marathon, Bukola Olopade has explained that road running is a lifestyle promoting phenomenon growing all over the world towards creating a healthier life style for people and Nigerians can not be left in this positive growth.

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