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Olympic gold medalist Chioma Ajunwa has blamed the sports ministry for not engaging ex-athletes, citing it as a majilor reason why Nigerian athletes’ have performed recently in international championships.
Ajunwa, who won gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, said Nigeria was gifted with talents, but regretted that retired athletes were not given the right platform to help nurture the up-and-coming athletes.
The multi-talented ex-athlete stated, “The sports ministry is not doing enough to engage ex-athletes, that is the only way to get the new breed of athletes for the country. We have Falilat Ogunkoya, Charity Okpara, myself plus others in Nigeria, but the government has not engaged any one of us.
“Jamaicans engage their ex-internationals to train their upcoming athletes, but we are not doing that in Nigeria. We are after quick successes, but we see what is happening in other countries, why can’t we emulate that?
“Why do our athletes start performing brilliantly immediately after they leave the country? Even the least ones that are deemed not important or neglected become champions after about six months or one year after leaving the country. What’s the problem? The talent is there, but the reason they are not performing here is the lack of support and motivation.”
Ajunwa added, “We are delighted to have a world champion and an Olympic gold medalist in the last 62 years, but aside from this, I don’t think we’ve achieved enough.
“Nigeria, as the giant of Africa, is supposed to be in a better position than where we are now. Even our football teams are struggling and retrogressing, that is not what we want.”