*Charges younger athletes, thanks FG, AFN, NOC
*Praise Onyali on BOOST
From Agnes Osazuwa-Olatunji
Having represented Nigeria twice at the Olympic games, I can confidently say it is unarguably the pinnacle of any athlete’s dream and getting a medal in such an epic event can be deemed to be one of the highest achievements and a dream come true that any athlete can hope for.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics where I and my fellow team mates (Oludamola Osayomi, Gloria Kemasuode, Franca Idoko and Halimat Ismaila) qualified through to the finals and ended up winning a bronze medal in the women’s 4x100m relay, it was nothing short of an electrifying moment. It was as if the world stood still because all the hard work, discipline and sacrifice just paid off.
For me and the rest of the quartet, it was as if that moment should just draw on and on. Having put in so much work and now seeing it been rewarded with a bronze medal at such an epoch making event was more than words could describe. Little did we know that fate had a whole different surprise package for us all a couple of years down the line.
It was with mixed feelings that we got the news of the disqualification of the Russia’s women relay quartet due to a doping infraction by one of her team members. On the one hand we had this joy of becoming Olympic silver medallists, but on the other, a feeling of slight disappointment knowing that the winning quartet
had an undue advantage due to one of its members spiking her system with banned substances.
This type of revelation comes with a bit of a sad feeling considering the amount of work you honestly put in and believing (erroneously as it turns out) that everyone was competing on a level playing field. And when you now find out that some persons had undue advantage due to the use of banned substances and it deprives you of what should have been rightly yours at the time, it gives you a feeling of sadness and slight depression and disappointment
in and towards the system.
Like a popular Yoruba adage that says “when a lie runs/ travels for many years, the truth will only take a day to meet and overtake it”, the truth when it comes out, it’s like a refreshing rain on a very hot day and that reinforces one’s belief in the system to reward hardwork done in all honesty.
It really gladdens my heart to have my bronze medal upgraded to a silver medal because it just simply gives me the drive to work even harder and have a rededication to a clean sports for us all.
I will like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has been instrumental to the upliftment of track and field in Nigeria and especially to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and the Federal Ministry of Sports. My special appreciation goes to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) who have always given me the platform to showcase my talent and also to my husband for always being a solid guide and support.
I will want to appeal to the Federal Ministry of Sports and hence, the Federal Government to have a more pragmatic and proactive approach to the development of sports in Nigeria. Sports, all over the world is an industry that generates billions in revenue if proper private sector participation is involved.
Nigeria, in my own believe, can rule the world of sports (track and field inclusive) if the proper steps are taken to ensure a proper grassroots development programme (like the BOOST programme by Chief Mary Onyali) is established. This needs to be supported by every Nigerian, home and abroad.
I will also like to use this medium to appeal to all my fellow athletes, both young and old, that no matter what you think you are facing now, I want you to just believe in yourself and continually tell yourself that the seeming punishments and disappointments of today if endured will lead to untold glories in the nearest future.
Keep on keeping.