Renowned athletics coach, Tobias Igwe (a.k.a Toblow) has expressed worry over poor timings that Nigerian athletes returned at the recently concluded All Nigeria and Cross River Open Athletics Championship held in Calabar.
“It is my belief that the coaches will do something about it before the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in August. I must confess, I am worried about the returned times of the athletes. As a matter of fact, some of our athletes failed to meet the criteria set by International Amateur Athletics Federations (IAAF).”
He recalled that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) had said before the commencement of the meet in Calabar that the tourney would serve as platform to pick athletes that will represent the country at the World Athletics Championship in Moscow.
“Therefore, the task ahead remains enormous for Nigerian athletics, the administrators and the coaches. Something must be done to improve their timing before the meets.
“My candid evaluation is that the coaches, officials and athletes still have a lot to do. Let me however point out here that very few of them have hit the IAAF required mark. The truth is that the majority are still lagging behind.”
It is instructive to note also that we only qualified for the women 4x400m and 4x100. The 4x400m men is not there yet; they must endeavour to be among the first 16 best relay teams in the world. You can now see from that simple analysis, there is a lot of work to be done,” he stressed.
Igwe added that he was not altogether surprised that the athletes did not meet the IAAF standards because the administrators did not look inwards.
“I have associated with athletics for years and it has been a long time ago that our athletes failed to meet globally set benchmark. Where do we go from here; and my answer would be to truly resuscitate schools sports in all its ramifications.
“The grassroots remain the easiest way out that will, at the long run, set the tone for our athletes to be great once again. That is the only short cut to be there.
“Time has come for the administrators to stop paying lips service to sports development in the country,” he added.
The veteran coach also restated that the need for an all year round championship for athletes is long overdue as that would help in no smaller measure to keep them in shape for any international meet.