The President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba, has explained the rationale behind dropping nine out of the 35 athletes originally selected to represent the nation at the 2013 Africa Junior Athletics Championship in Bamboo, Mauritius this week.
According to Ogba, who addressed journalist in Lagos, the dropped athletes were not truthful about their ages and were suspected to have falsified same on their international passports.
Ogba stated that the AFN has decided to stick with only genuinely young athletes who will be proudly able to fly Nigeria’s flag at the highest level in the no distant future.
He said that the AFN is not keen at winning at all cost in Mauritius but would fancy nurturing today’s young talent that would in turn be the stars of tomorrow for Nigeria. He said the hard stance on the junior team is just one of the steps being taken to start a rebirth of some sort for athletics in Nigeria.
“One of the first thing we doing; look at the team going to Mauritius for the Africa Junior, we cut them down for 35 to 26 athletes.
“We discovered that some of them, their ages are not true ages, somebody can be like 20 while the real age is 34 and for training there is a limit you can go because of the age.
“Let us go to Mauritius even if we do not win we can say we have a pool of athletes that we can call for in the days ahead,” Ogba added.
The Nigerian team left for Mauritius on Tuesday for the 4-day championships which starts on Thursday, August 29 and ends on September 1.
A total of 292 athletes will be in action at Bamboo in the four days of competition – three half-days and one full day of competition.
According to Vivian Gungaram, coordinator of the Cocaj and Technical Delegates of the CAA, the programme has been modified and then approved by the continental body.
He added that the Local Organizing Committee will provide transportation for the athletes and coaches not only the venue, but also for the workouts sessions which will take place at the Maryse Justin Stadium, in Reduit.