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You can’t blame coaches for poor show in London –Okon

*Replies Falilat Ogunkoya, critics

One of the three coaches that coached Team Nigeria at the 2017 London World Championships, Gabriel Okon, has charged back at those hitting their technical depth saying, the coaches cannot be blamed.

Okon was in charge of technical matters at the IAAF World Championships in London, insisted that poor preparations and travel arrangements cost the country medals and not coaches.

Gabriel Okon...one of the coaches in London
Gabriel Okon…one of the coaches in London

One of the former board members of the AFN, Chief Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotayo squeezed the coaches on the medal miss especially of the 4x400m women. Okon in a statement he shared with www.gongnews.net said Nigeria’s failed bid to win a last ditch medal in the women 4x400m relay was a function beyond the coachs.

He stated that the team was hard pressed for runners, hence the decision to run Abike Egbeniyi who arrived London a night before the race, which Nigeria was placed fifth even as their semi-final performance was good enough for a medal.

Athletics enthusiasts believe that Egbeniyi’s lap slowed down the Nigerian women. “First of all in order to win medals the government must invest in the athletes and coaches. The federation must have a sound technical team and a viable secretariat. Medals are never won through uninformed ‘experts’ as we are doing right now,” Okon charged.

He explained that Abike had to run since Emerald Egwim and Margaret Bamgbose needed medical help after their races.

“Emerald Egwim was so sick the night before; we had to start looking for a replacement in which we didn’t find. She complained of a stomach upset. She barely warmed up for the 4x4m qualifying race….so we couldn’t have used her when there was a fresh leg in the team.”

However, former sprinter Endurance Ojokolo disagreed. “Egwim ran so well in the semi-final. What kind of sickness could have stopped her? We are all athletes and we know these things, she could have been patched up to run. A half fit Egwim would be better than Abike who was home not training after Ozoro trials, she had no clue she will be going to the world championships.”

Another athlete who begged for anonymity said, “the coaches lost it. Did he or they not know that Emerald Egwim was a young, first timer at that stage? It was a psychological pep she would have needed. The coaches should rather than justify their flip apologise to the nation. I am rather disappointed in Okon trying to paint pictures beyond what all of us know and see. please tell him to tell that to the Marines.”

Even the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) London expertly laid the lacklustre performance at the laps of the coaches.

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  1. NgoziChukwu Akubuike

    Gabriel Okon should take responsibility for his errors and stop blaming Emerald Egwim. Emerald Egwim was well prepared to run, and proved. It is a shame that coach Gabriel Okon chose to put personal gain above the nation, thus depriving Nigeria of the glory and honor of winning a medal. It is a shame that corruption runs deep in the nation, even in sports.

  2. Patrick Omorodion

    Was it the travel plans that caused the athletes to have a poor baton exchange? Abeg tell that to the marines

  3. Patrick Omorodion

    “Emerald Egwim was so sick the night before; we had to start looking for a replacement in which we didn’t find. She complained of a stomach upset. She barely warmed up for the 4x4m qualifying race….so we couldn’t have used her when there was a fresh leg in the team.”- Okon But the same Emerald has debunked this claim. Who is now the liar here

    • NgoziChukwu Akubuike

      Coach Gabe Okon is a big fat liar. Emerald was not sick. Emerald has been running since her elementary school days in US. She runs for her university in US, and came first in the Big Ten championship (championship for the big ten universities). As a result of her performance, Nigeria aggressively and actively pursued her to represent Nigeria at the world championship. Nigeria was not responsible for her flight into London. The available flight into London was a day earlier than other athletes. Coach Gabe refused to pay for her hotel room and feeding for that one night. Emerald Egwim paid for her hotel room. Emerald Egwim paid for her training prior to the championship. After the semifinals, and upon realizing how much each athlete will get, they decided to bring in their “fresh leg”. Coach Gabe Okon and others who made the decision to replace Emerald should be ashamed of themselves for allowing corruption and nepotism to thwart an opportunity to win that would have brought honor to Nigeria. Coach Gabe should desist from disparaging telling lies against Emerald.

  4. Ayo Onibokun, Washington DC

    Who else would we blame for the fiasco in London. I hope this is not the man whose terrible decision led to importing another member of the team from Nigeria and changing the winning team?
    Was this the man who qualified the girls for the London Worlds? He doesn’t sound so.
    I doubt his postulation of Emerald Egwim being sick.
    He should be advised to take the blame and learn to be a better coach.
    He is just as escapist.