The Athletics Federation Nigeria, AFN, has described as unfortunate the attitude of the very few Nigerians who have taken to the social media to dissipate their energy on the vest wore by sprinter, Favour Ofili during the 4x100m relay event at the just concluded 18th World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.
The letter ‘i’ was missing from the spelling of Nigeria on the vest and instead of celebrating the unprecedented feats achieved by sprint hurdler Tobi Amusan who set a new 100m hurdles world record enroute to winning Nigeria’s first gold medal and long jumper Ese Brume who became the first Nigerian to win a medal in two staright World Championships, they chose to deliberately paint the federation in bad light.
‘It is really disheartning to know that a few Nigerians could shift their focus from the incredible feats our athletes performed in Oregon which attracted commendation from the President, Muhammadu Buhari to a factory error made by giant sports wear and equipment company, NIKE and which affected just the vest Ofili wore at the championships,’ says AFN Secretary General, Prince Adeniyi Adisa Beyioku.
‘NIKE is a well known and rspected kit and equipment manufcaturer and agreed to kit our team to the championships. One of the samples they made was mistakenly packed with those delivered to the federation in Oregon and instead of looking at the company’s reputation and that of the AFN, especially the present executive board under the leadership of chief Tonobok Ojuru Okowa, they chose to deliberately escalate a non-issue but failed to put it at the front burner of discussions.’
Beyioku says the federation is not distracted by the actions of the idle few and has already shifted focus to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where it hopes to record Nigeria’s best ever performance.
‘Since this board took over the reins of athletics in June 2021, we have either put Nigeria back on the world map or created unprecedented feats. Last year at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, the athletics team returned to the podium 13 long years after making such an appearance.
‘At the U20 World Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, we achieved unprecedented feats in the history of Nigeria’s participation in the championships and the result of that is the number of our young athletes that have attained world class status in just one year with one of them even breaking a long standing Nigerian record at only 19”.
The AFN Secretary General says the federation also returned Nigeria to the podium at the World Indoor championships in Serbia 14 years after Olusoji Fasuba last did.
‘ Tobi Amusan also won the 100m hurdles Diamond League crown, an unprecedented feat she capped with a first ever World Championships gold and world record.’
‘These feats are worth celebrating and the father of the nation, the President and the number one man in Sports under whose tenure these unprecedented feats have been achieved, Sunday Dare have led the celebrations. We will like to invite those still fixated on looking for the ‘i’ in Ofili’s vest to join the train as this AFN is not done yet in making sure we reposition the sport of track and field,’ said Beyioku.