By Raphael Ekpang
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) said on Thursday in Abuja that it would target the number three spot in the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) ranking for 2014.
Solomon Ogba, President of the AFN told Newsdiaryonline in Abuja that the target when achieved would go a long way in repositioning athletics in the country.
According to Ogba the IAAF latest World ranking recently released which placed Nigeria on the 19th position in the world and 3rd in Africa was an indication that things were getting better.
“Generally if I assess what we have done, I think modestly one will be happy to say it has been good but not where we want it to be yet. We want to have at least three to five athletes ranked within the first three in the world; if we have that then we can now begin to beat our chest.”
He continued, “One of our goals is to erase most of the national records set before and we started doing that because many records have been falling. The technical committee is the engine room of the federation because no matter where you run an administration and have nothing to show they will say you have not done well.
“But if you have medals and titles to show, then, they will say you have done well and what brings about titles is technical,” he concluded.
Ogba noted that his desire to see Nigerian athletes mount the podium at international competitions necessitated the employment of a Performance Director for the AFN.
He further said that the absence of a performance director in the `Team Nigeria’ contingent to the 2012 London Olympics contributed largely to Blessing Okagbuare’s loss in the 100metres race.
“There is difference between a coach and a performance coach; if a coach knows something that can make Usain Bolt, that thing that man knows can worth 10million dollars. But the truth is that nobody knows anything specifics; it is the science that is important and constant.”
“When you are training you run and they clock you; that is what every coach does but does that translate into times? No.
“I give you an example, in the Olympics Blessing had the second fastest time in the semifinals. One and half hour later she was to run in the final; we did not know the weather was going to be cold so we didn’t prepare; we didn’t gloves. She didn’t cover to be warm because your body needs to be in a specific temperature to fire the cylinder because it’s like a car.
When you are running, you have gear one, two, three and four, A hundred metre is four phases; its science. So, that is the difference between a coach and a performance coach,’’ Ogba added.
By Raphael Ekpang