Atlanta 1996 Olympic gold medallist Chioma Ajunwa has said Nigeria’s failure to win more than one gold medal in athletics at the recently-concluded Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games should be blamed on the lack of proper preparation and not the athletes.
Nigeria finished ninth in Australia with 24 medals – nine gold, nine silver and six bronze. The country won four medals in athletics – one gold in the women’s 100m hurdles, two silver in the women’s 4x400m relay and men’s shot put and one bronze in the women’s 100m relay.
Ajunwa, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said the athletes should not be blamed for failure because they were not properly prepared for the Games.
The former long jumper said the Athletics Federation of Nigeria had been faced with difficulties and distractions, which affected the athletes.
While praising the athletes for giving their best on the Gold Coast, she said the lack of early and proper preparations for the Games resulted in the failure to win medals as the country had done in previous Games.
She said, “The athletes tried their best in Australia. Last year was not a good year for the AFN — there was a lot of distractions and that affected the athletes. There was no time for them to prepare well for the Games.
“As an athlete, there are some events you go to and you perform very well while there are others where you don’t perform well too. I had thought Nigeria would not feature in the Commonwealth Games this year because of the preparations they had ahead of the competition — it was inadequate.”
Ajunwa advised the federation to camp the athletes early enough ahead of the next major competition (the African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Delta State, in August).
“The federation has to change so many things if athletics is to return to its glorious days. The idea of telling athletes to go and train and then come for trial should be stopped because it has not helped the sport,” she said.
“There is no way an athlete would go and train themselves and will be able to make it in a major competition. It is not done in any part of the world. Competitions are organised and athletes are camped ahead of the various international competitions.
“I hope that the Federal Government and the corporate bodies would be able to assist the AFN and we would be able to have more national competitions for the athletes.”