Hungry Athletes: Nigeria’s Silent Struggle Revealed

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– Nigerian athletes facing economic hardships.

– Struggling to afford basic meals.

– Fear career-ending consequences.

– Reliance on inadequate diets.

It’s no secret that Nigeria’s athletes are grappling with the harsh realities of the country’s economic hardships, which they describe as potentially career-ending. 

A significant number of them, speaking anonymously, have voiced their dismay over the inability to afford even a decent meal on a daily basis, a stark contrast to their circumstances in the past.

Expressing concerns about the prevailing adverse conditions in the country, many athletes fear that they may be forced to prematurely end their promising athletic careers. 

One athlete lamented, “To prepare for competitions, I used to rely on simple meals like gari. It’s disheartening that my first proper meal in two months was during our participation in the CAA Senior Athletics Championships in Accra, Ghana, with Team Nigeria. Prior to that, I was barely subsisting on junk food, which is perilous for any athlete.”

The sentiment is shared by several others, although they hesitate to openly acknowledge their struggles. Many athletes are quietly enduring similar challenges, feeling ashamed or embarrassed to disclose their predicament to anyone. This silent suffering underscores the magnitude of the crisis facing Nigeria’s sporting community and highlights the urgent need for intervention to support these athletes during these difficult times.

“I’m a graduate, I chose sports, especially AthIetics because I’m talented and doing well too.

“My colleagues are brave and resilient, some of them came to Ghana with Ijebu Gari, not for fun but as a standby necessity. Thank God Nigeria did well at Zone ll AthIetics Championships.

“We are also grateful to AFN leadership for giving us allowance, unlike what happened after the Africa Games where allowance was not immediately paid. With it, a lot could be achieved, at least, in buying some vitamins and food stuff to train for competitions ahead.

“Most AthIetes that attended the Zone ll Championships in Accra Ghana were talented, however the hardship in the country may drastically set their career back following the dearth of finance. Some of them are going to pay back the money they borrowed, while some might not make the team after AFN national Trials in Benin and CAA Championships in Douala Cameroon next week, so the struggle continues.

“My advice is that AthIetes need funds to perform well. Sports loving people must assist sports to grow in Nigeria,” he said.

Zone ll Championships in Accra Ghana

Team Nigeria continued its fine form from the 13th African Games and World Relay emerging table toppers after bagging 13 gold medals at the just concluded Confederate of African Athletics Region II Senior Championships in Accra Ghana.

The games which drew to a close on Thursday, held at the University of Ghana sports stadium which also hosted similar events at the 13th African Games.

Nigeria also picked four Silver and one Bronze medal for a total haul of 18, five fewer than the host and Second placed Team Ghana who hauled eight gold, nine silver and six bronze for a total of 23 medals while Burkina Faso garnered five gold, six silver and four bronze medals for a total of 15 to place third.

Minister Reacts

The Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh took to his verified Facebook page to congratulate the athletes.

Senator Enoh who said the athletes showcased “the excellent Nigerian spirit on the tracks,” pointed out that the build up shows Team Nigeria is set up to dominate.

“Congratulations to Team Nigeria for topping the medal table at the just concluded Athletics Championships, Accra 2024.

“A total number of twenty two athletes represented our country and they showcased the excellent Nigerian spirit on the tracks and emerged tops.

“Our dear athletes, we are very proud of you, we will continue to give you all the needed backing to excel.This build up shows that we have set out to dominate. Thumbs up!, he wrote.

Some Of The Results

Some of the winners include 16 year old Faith Osamuyi who did not make the podium at the African Games, but, posted 13.66 seconds to win her first international gold medal in the women’s 100m hurdles, reports The Guardian.

In a similar vein, 17 year old Justina Tiana Eyakpobeyan finished the women’s 100m at 11.52 seconds to win a gold medal ahead of Olayinka Olajide who posted 11.58 seconds to clinch the silver medal. Meanwhile Ghanaian, Hur Halutie clocked 11.62 seconds for the bronze medal.

21 years old Elo Esther Joseph finished the women’s 400m race in 51.79 seconds to win the gold medal while serial medalist, Patience Okon George, aged 32 clinched silver having returned 52.10 seconds with Burkina Faso’s Sita Sibiri emerging bronze medalist with 53.14 seconds on the clock.

Ghana’s Gadayi Edwin emerged top at the men’s 100m with Nigeria’s Adekalu Nicholas Fakorede, aged 20 clinching a silver medal.

And, Nigeria’s Emmanuel Ojeli, aged 25 continued his fine form to win gold in the men’s 400m race.

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