Nigeria’s long distance runner, Comfort James is determined to write her own story when the 2019 Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) U18 and U20 Championships get underway in Abidjan on Tuesday.
More attention has been on the sprints which has been Nigeria’s strongest points in the track and field events. But the Athletics Federation of Nigeria decided it was high time they encouraged long distance runners in International competitions adding the 1500m, 5000 and 10000m races to list of events in this year’s Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Under-18 and Under-20 Championships.
An undergraduate of Physical and Health Education of the University of Uyo, James, is confident she can win a medal.
“My target is to win a medal and I am not afraid of the Kenyans and Ethiopians.”
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“We were discouraged in the past because they (AFN) were not taking long distance runners to competitions so now they are doing well to carry us too and for that happening I am happy about it. They believe we are better at sprints and not long distance but I want to prove them wrong,” James said.
News emanated from their camp on failure of the Sports Ministry to assist the AFN with funds almost prompting a withdrawal from the competition.
James told www.aclsports.com she wont be discouraged by the poor funding of the contingent to Abidjan.
“I just need to encourage myself. I have left school for almost a month training so I won’t allow lack of funds or allowances weigh me down or discourage me. I have to do my best in Abidjan.”
The second year student of the University of Uyo disclosed how she copes with athletics and her education.
“It’s stressful combining education and sports. Some days I have classes from morning till 4 and sometimes the coach wants you to train same way or same day. I won’t give up I’ll keep pushing as long as God helped me in my first year I didn’t have any carry over, I passed I know God will continue to help me.”
The Akwa Ibom state born athlete said her studies won’t be affected by the one week Championship in Abidjan as special arrangements have been made by her school.
“It won’t affect me because my school director of sports wrote a letter to our VC, faculty lecturers handling my course or department so if there is a test or assignments in my absence there will be supplementary arranged for me.”