The 2004 Olympic 4x100m relay bronze medalist, Deji Aliu, has advised Nigerian sports administrators not to play politics with sports.
Aliu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that mixing sports and politics would affect sports development.
The 2003 All-Africa Games 100m champion, who spoke on Monday during the Athletics TV talent hunt audition, tagged ‘the Making of Champions‘ said that sentiments should be discarded when conducting trials.
“We are very sentimental in this part of the world,” said Aliu. “But for me, being an athlete, I have been there, I have seen it all, I will always celebrate talents. I do not want to know where you are coming from or who you are.”
“When I saw a talent at the Lagos audition, who I heard competed at the IBILE Games but was not picked, I knew he will be great, he has not really had training but if trained well, he will be big in the world.”
Aliu, who was also a 100m gold medalist at the 1994 World Junior Championships in Portugal, noted that talent in sports goes with time, “so real talents discovered should be given the opportunity”.Deji Aliu said the notion that if an athlete is not working with a particular coach, such athletes are discriminated against in the team selection is not fair to the state and the country.
“People who think like that should be sent out of the system,” said Aliu.
“I will be a coward if I shy away from this issue because it has been going on for a while. They do not want the best athletes to be there, rather, they want their own athlete to be there.
“This is not helping the system because they feel they are not going to take the glory but then if you don’t take the glory as an individual, the country will take, so why don’t you look at it this way.”
“We have a lot of talents in Nigeria but they are untapped and I thought let me do my quota by discovering and nurturing talents to Olympics standard,” he concluded.