Nigeria may continue to lose some of its talented athletes to countries like U.S., Norway, Britain, Qatar and recently, Bahrain because of what the athletes say is poor welfare and training facilities.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the likes of Francis Obikwelu, a Nigerian-born Portuguese sprinter, specialising in 100m and 200m left for a greener pasture.
He obtained Portuguese citizenship in 2001 and won the Athens 2004 Olympic silver medal in 100m.
Glory Alozie is another Nigerian-born Spanish track and field athlete competing mostly in hurdling.
The world junior second place from 1996 went on to have a successful senior career though she has never won a global international event
Femi Ogunode, represented Qatar in the sprints and holds a personal best of 9.91 in 100m, making him the current holder of the Asian 100m record.
Another is Oluwakemi Adekoya and Edidiong Ofonime Odiong who represented Bahrain at the Rio Olympics in Brazil.
It is also important to note that the current President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali, is among Nigerian athletes that had their career in foreign land having represented Canada.
He represented Canada in the Men’s Freestyle Wrestling Lightweight and won gold at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Australia.
Reacting to the development, Nicholas Imhoaperamhe, a 2015 African Games 100m finalist, told NAN on Tuesday in Lagos that inadequate athletes’ welfare was a major reason for Nigerian athletes’ allegiance to other countries.
Imhoaperamhe said that if athletes were not given the needed support, encouragement and facilities, a lot more of them would consider naturalisation in other countries.
“No athlete will say that he or she wants to represent another country if the right things are done.
“If athletes are given the necessary support, incentives and facilities, no one will go to another country.
“Every athlete wants to be successful, so, if another country is ready to give all the needed support, he or she goes to the greener pasture,’’ he said.
He told NAN that he hoped to set a new record in 2017, saying that he hoped to achieve his aim by training hard. (NAN)