The decision by the main organising committee of the National Sports Festival to restrict entries into some of the athletics events has been described by coaches as an attempt to kill the sport in Nigeria.
Of great concern to the coaches were hurdles and long jump, two events in which Nigerian athletes did marvelously well at international meets.
Tobi Amusa set a incredible world record with a time of 12.12 seconds at the world championships, while Ese Brume who holds the African record in the long jump also won silver.
The main organising committee is proposing that each state would be permitted to enter one athlete in most of the athletics events. The only exceptions are the sprints where 3 entries per State have been permitted.
It was gathered that the decision has not gone down well with Athletics Federation of Nigeria president Tonobok Okowa. He has asked the MOC to revert to the world standards entry per event and it remained to be seen if there would be any changes.
” This is ridiculous to say the least,” said former national heptathlon champion Patience Itanyi.
” The Sports Festival is like our Olympics, restricting the number of entries is like killing the sport, this is so wrong. It shouldn’t come to this.
“It does not make any sense…how do you develop the sport? Imagine the long distance runners who are looking forward to running in a competition are being denied the opportunity.”
Also speaking was former sprinter Gabriel Okon. He said that it was laughable that two events where Nigeria made world impact are being stymied from encouraging more talents.