Nigerian sprinter Agnes Osazuwa represented Ogun State in the 2009 Nigeria Sports Festival in Kaduna (KADA Games) where she won two gold medals in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, a silver medal in the Long Jump and a bronze medal in the 100 metres.
In this interview with NEXT on Sunday's Yemi Olus, she spoke of her dreams, training and immediate and remote targets for the London 2012 Olympics.
Agnes Osazuwa might not be known as the likes of Damola Osayomi and Franca Idoko but there is no doubt that the athlete, who is a sprinter and does long jump as well, is following the trail of these athletes.
Born and bred in Benin, Edo State, she started athletics as an SS2 student in 2005. She came to Ogun State that same year and was the last athlete to be included into the state's team for the Gateway Games in 2006.
"The Gateway Games was my first major competition and I won a bronze medal in the 4x100 meters relay but in the 100 and 200 meters, I placed fourth," she said.
"In the Grand Prix that year, I ran 11.7 and placed third in my category.
"I went for the World Juniors in Poland last year but you know how the Nigerian system is. We didn't get there on time so by the time we got there, after three days of no sleep, it was time for the competition.
I made it to round two of the 100 meters and the team didn't perform well in the relays because the stress was too much."
Osazuwa placed fourth in the Mobil Track and Field championships last year and was in Nigeria's contingent to the Beijing Olympics as part of the 4x100 meters relay team, together with Damola Osayomi, Gloria Kemasuode, Franca Idoko and Halimat Ismaila.
She ran in the preliminaries but didn't take part in the finals which she believed was as a result of a not too smooth baton exchange with Gloria Kemasuode during the semi finals.
"On the day of the finals, I cried because I was supposed to run but I feel it was because of the baton exchange that I was replaced by Halimat Ismaila. I really felt bad that I didn't stand at the podium with them to collect the medal.
Osazuwa, an only girl with eight brothers, represented Ogun State in the 2009 Nigeria sports festival, Kada Games, where she won two gold medals in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, a silver medal in long jump and a bronze medal in the 100 meters. The 4x100 relay team broke the festival record time of 45.84 seconds with a new record of 44.83 seconds.
However, she is not impressed with her performance at the festival as she had higher expectations of herself.
"I was in Italy for a training tour just before the festival. I spent two weeks but the weather was very cold so sometimes, I couldn't even train there. I was thinking Kaduna was going to be cold, not as hot and harsh as it was so, it was difficult acclimatizing. I wanted to shatter the record but things didn't turn out that way for me. I thank God for everything," she said.
Osazuwa is now putting her all in preparation for the Grand Prix coming up on the 5th of May in Abuja and says she is set to explode there. She also talks about her goals.
Her coach, Ayodele Okon Sholaja, said he discovered her in Benin while working with the Edo State Sports Council and describes her as multi-talented, disciplined and zealous. He also revealed his immediate and future plans for Agnes Osazuwa.
"The Permit Meet, just like the festival and Mobil Track and Field, are the immediate goals but what I'm working towards really is the next Olympics.
"I have mapped out a pr, The Grand Prix is important but the Olympics is more important. This year, I'm contemplating her running an 11.2 so that by 2012, the target is 10.7 or 10.8 seconds.
Sholaja, however, feels that athletes in Nigeria are left on their own and suffer from lack of sponsors to help facilitate their training and make their burden lighter.
He believes that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) can do more to get sponsors for athletes and their programmes.
"AFN should be able to look for sponsors for the athletes but they are not ready," he said.
"Though it is not their responsibility per se, I believe they can do it because they look for sponsors for their own programmes.
I think they should; because that idea of camping athletes in a place for so long is archaic and old fashioned.
Culled from NEXT