The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has described the National Cross-Country race billed to hold on March 18 as part of the process to produce world champions in long distance races.

According to AFN First Vice President, Tafida Gadzama, who also heads the Road Race sub-committee, the race, earlier scheduled to hold last month, would still hold in Jalingo, Taraba State.

He said the event is part of the journey to start producing world class middle and long distance runners, which begins with athletes and coaches knowing they need to include cross-country training in their training regime.

“I saw clips of the cross-country race held in Jos last month and was delighted that our athletes and coaches are made to understand they need to run in competitions like that and train to get better.

“The objective is not to produce world and Olympic medalists overnight, but to improve the performances of our athletes and make them competitive.

“If they are competitive, achieve the standards that will get them to run in continental and international road races, they can start making money to take care of their families and contribute to the GDP of Nigeria,” added Gadzama, the 1997 African U-20 400m champion.

“According to experts, running cross- country, not only builds athletes’ physical strength, it also helps their mental strength. Anyone who has ever run cross-country understands the mental toughness that is necessary to complete a workout and a race,” added Gadzama.

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