In an interview with AthleticsAfrica’s Tunde Eludini, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN)'s Technical Director, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama says the Federation expects better results at the 2nd AFN Golden League meeting in Ilorin, Kwara State this weekend.
Commodore Omatseye Nesiama lauded some of the performances of the athletes at the first leg in Abuja on April 12-13 and he's optimistic of a bright year ahead for athletics in Nigeria.
AA: Sir, What's your take on the first leg of the Athletics Golden League Meet in Abuja?
ON: I will rate the performance as good and encouraging. Interestingly, I am someone who also looks at statistics. By this time last year we were not able to get people who could make set standards to win prize monies. As I am talking to you now, in the 100m men alone, we have four athletes that qualified for prize money. So it goes to show that there are a lot of improvements.
I am happy also to note that athletes even despite winning their events are not too happy when they don’t make the mark they were expected to make. That is the idea of making this Golden League performance based since last year and I am happy that the feeling has sunk in.
Athletes now see the need to aim at targets not just positions. Because it is the target aiming that actually takes you there; if you run or jump or throw a particular distance or time and you don’t make the particular target set irrespective of the position you finish, you should not be happy.
This just goes to show that the athletes have plans and are determined to do well in the season. So if we have most of our athletes feeling that way, I am most excited for it. It means that they will work harder and it means that we would be prepared to pay more.
AA: Do you anticipate a better Golden League Meet in Ilorin this weekend?
ON: I have been talking to some of the coaches, like I always say, competitions are meant to test the training efforts that have been put into an athlete. No matter the training, if there are no competitions, you might not be able to access the value of that training. So this competition is an eye opener to the coaches and the technical crew. So they will go back and make the necessary corrections.
We observe that there was a little lull between the conditioning period especially between this competition and the last competition because we had to cancel meets in between and that could have taken its toll on the athletes. So we will make necessary corrections for that and since the next event is in two weeks, I think is good time for them to prepare better and perform better.
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AA: How ready is the AFN for the loaded 2014 calendar?
ON: We started our plans since last year and we are working towards achieving our goals with or without sponsorship or money. We have been very determine and that is why as I am taking to you now, we have a lot of our athletes in the USA training and trying to bond with the US-based athletes in preparation for the IAAF Worlds Relay - Bukola Abogunloko, Folashade Abugan, Josephine Ehigie, Omolara Omotoso etc I am talking about the 400m athletes, they are all there.
At the same time, we do not want our local league to be so depleted that’s why we have kept some of the athletes back to also work here. Later in May, we will observe their performances at both ends and thereafter put a formidable team together to go and prosecute the World relays in the Bahamas.
AA: What measures are in place to curb doping in the events to be attended?
ON: As I am talking to you now, we have said it during our technical meeting that no athletes will be going out without being tested. As long as you perform, you will be tested and we will not target just the top three winners of a race but we can pick anyone at random.
As I am talking to you now, we have conducted up to three dope test. I hope that you are aware that a national record has already been broken in the 20km race walk men but subject to ratification.
We have decided to be serious with the drug issue and we have made sure that this season, anti-doping control offer is always in our meets. We also engage in out of competition testing and that is why we said we are going to enforce the athlete’s whereabouts information rule of WADA.
Our top athletes must be accounted for and we must always know where they are at any time and we should be able to conduct test on them at any time.
AA: Again can you please elaborate on the reasons for the appointment of Maurice Greene as the Team Nigeria’s Relay coach.
ON: Greene has achieved some formidable feat in aspect of relays and we hope he can impart some expertise to our athletes. Relays should be traditional to Nigeria and we have some reasonably good athletes who can take up the challenge but we have not really trained very well for relays and that is why we moved our athletes early to be able to bond and blend well.
We observe that we do a lot of training but not competitive training. Most times we go into competition mood at the competition itself. So we don’t have enough time to really blend. We have the experience of Greene to help in the relays.
We have given him a three month's [contract] test to see what he can do and we are hoping and believing that our move pay off properly. He's attached to some of our own coaches so that if there are one or two tricks, they will be able to learn and when he is out, they can pick up from where he left off. We have coaches actually billed to join him, I think we have about four of them who will be joining him.
AA: Thank you for talking to us, Commodore.