As part of efforts to groom talents for the next Olympic Games, Nigeria Sports Development Funds Incorporated (NSDFI) in conjunction with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, has set aside plans to have 16 quarter milers compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The Ondo State Government in December signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NSDFI and AFN to establish the first of six National Athletics Centres in the country. Reported here
Director General of NSDFI, Olajide Fashikun revealed to ACLSports their plans to invest in quarter-milers.
“We are chosing 16 quarter-milers from the 6 communities and each of them will be on a 5 million naira grant each year. Our plan is can we go to the Olympics and return with a minimum of bronze medals in the 4x400m using these 16 quarter-milers as precepts”
Fashikun explained why the 4x400m is being preferred over short distance races.
“We looked at the two and the fact remains that in a 4x100m, if there is split second error you may not gain it back. Unlike the 4×400, a split second error may not even reflect in the final lap of the team, the uncertainty in the 4×100 made us to go for the 4×400. Moreso, the country is blessed with athletes very good in short sprints including the quarter-mile,” he said
The former Nigerian handball player, narrated how Ondo State Government stepped in to partner with the NSDFI project.
“When the executive Governor of Ondo State first saw the campaign (NSDFI), he got back home and told his wife he loved the campaign and incidentally their own family is a tennis-playing family. They all play tennis, the Governor, his wife and children. His wife wanted to have tennis clinics like she did when she was in Ibadan.”
“The Governor called former DG of the National Sports Commission, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye to get persons who could help his wife with the clinic so they brought in Nduka Odizor, best tennis player Nigeria has ever produced and Elegbeleye knowing fully well I am the one managing Nduka Odizor, Mary Onyali (NSDFI director), Chioma Ajunwa, I was called and we did the clinic without asking the Government for any kobo because we felt It was an opportunity for us to give back to the system.”
“Nduka (Odizor) also had to bring some equipment from the US and in the process of trying to close the Akure project, we brought in our own project and then the Governor asked for details so that’s how we started the NSDFI in Ondo State not like it was planned to start in Ondo it could have been in any other State.” Fashikun concluded
Official launch of the NSDFI has been scheduled to take place last week of March and work expected to begin in April.