Former African sprints queen Mary Onyali-Omagbemi has said that she quit running not because of age or dwindling performance but to allow for the growth of younger athletes.
Onyali-Omagbemi told the News Agency of Nigeria in Calabar during the week that her continued stay in the sport was becoming a problem instead of an asset and that her presence was having psychological effect on younger athletes.
She said: "I still have it in me, as I showed yesterday at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in the Veterans race of the 21st Nigeria/NNPC/Mobil Track and Field Championships.
"I knew I could still continue when I quit the stage after the 2004 Olympics in Athens but I wanted the game to develop. I wanted the upcoming ones to grow.
"Of course, I was not moving upwards as there was no more challenge on the continent and I was not moving up the ladder on the global stage."
"I felt if I continued here, I will continue to keep the others down, especially the younger ones who always feared my name and get weakened psychologically,'' she added.
She had a personal best of 10.97secs in the 100m recorded in 1993 and won the bronze medal in the 4x100m relay at the 1992 Olympics and in the 200m at the 1996 Olympics.
She also won the 1994 Commonwealth Games gold medal in the 200m.
Onyali-Omagbemi, 42, won the Veterans 100m race at the 21st Nigeria Mobil Championships last weekend in Calabar in 12.80 secs, ahead of former national athletes such as Armelia Edet, Gloria Obajimi and Tina Iheagwam.
The women's 100m flat at the championships was won by the 2010 NCAA Champion, Blessing Okagbare who clocked a time of 11.06 seconds.