An Athletics Coach and Head, High Altitude Athletics Club, Jos, Stephen Nuhu, on Tuesday said that the just-concluded Access Bank Lagos City Marathon should be a step toward Nigeria clinching Marathon gold medals at the Olympics.
Nuhu made the assertion in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos.
He said that Nigeria should leverage on the exposure of the indigenous marathoners to the international elite athletes by engaging the indigenous runners positively to achieve better results and probably dislodged them at the Olympics.
Nuhu said: “We have had a wonderful hosting here and one of the best ever seen, but we need to consolidate on whatever we achieved here for better results in the Olympics and other events.
“I have said it several times that the Kenyans and Ethiopians are beatable, we are better than them and we have more athletes than they do. We can beat them to gold medals.
“I sincerely hope that other states can borrow a leaf from the Lagos State Government’s promise to employ coaches for marathoners; especially those in the northern states.
“Those in the northern states have the advantage because they are already blessed with high altitudes, the only problem is that they don’t have a single competition.’’
Nuhu said that it was appalling that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria did not have any visible programme for the long distance runners and calling on the body to correct the ills.
He said: “I am not happy the way long distance runners are treated in Nigeria and I am calling AFN to action. It is disheartening that AFN has no programme at all for marathoners.
“The marathoners are left to source for funds on their own to train without any help from AFN. We cannot achieve anything without camping; runners cannot be at their best in empty stomachs.
“I have said it, give me N2 million and in six months I will produce runners that will be on the podium. We can rival the East Africans.
“AFN is just spending money on those things that cannot improve the athletes, what we need is camping and we will get results.’’