Olympic silver medallists Francis Obikwelu and Gloria Alozie have promised to help produce new track and field champions that will surpass the marks they made for Nigeria and their adopted countries.
Owing to varying reasons, Obikwelu and Alozie switched nationalities to Portugal and Spain respectively at the peak of their careers but the duo told journalists in Lagos that they are happy with the opportunity they now have through The Top Sprinter Genesis to give back to Nigeria.
The Top Sprinter Genesis, a talent hunt initiative targeted at raising new athletics stars for Nigeria, is set for a thrilling climax in Lagos this week.
“What happened has happened, I’m here to give 150 per cent to help produce champions for Nigeria. We can produce athletes that can win medals at the Olympics.” said Obikwelu, whose 1999 Nigerian record in 200m has not been matched not let alone been broken.
“If you give me an athlete that is not well known, in the next one year I guarantee that I can make him run faster. I’m here to produce athletes that will break my Nigerian record in 200m,” he added.
On her part, Alozie first apologised for ‘dumping’ Nigeria for Spain with a promise that she would make up by helping unearth new stars through the ‘The Top Sprinter Genesis’ initiative.
Alozie said, “It was after I changed my nationality that I really knew what I had done. I went to Spain as a junior and I was still young so I did not really know what I was doing.
“I’m really sorry I changed. I didn’t really see it that way. But thank God I’m back and I promise to make amends. I’m here to produce another Gloria Alozie, who can win medals for Nigeria.”
Speaking more on the ‘The Top Sprinter Genesis’ grand finale billed for Lagos from October 1-3, Bambo Akanni, CEO of Making of Champions, the organisers of the Talent Hunt programme, said it was high time private and cooperate bodies take on the challenge of nurturing talents for the country as Federations like the AFN cannot do it alone.
Akanni said it was pleasing to have the duo of Gloria Alozie and Francis Obikwelu on board and also two other Olympic medallists; Deji Aliu and Uchenna Emedolu.
The former Nigerian track stars will be supervising over 250 Athletes from across Nigeria already registered for the event scheduled to hold at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.