Lagos, May 16, 2019 (NAN) Olalekan Soetan, an athletics statistician, on Thursday called for early preparation ahead of the All Africa Games and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Championships.
Soetan gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, Southwest of Nigeria while reacting to the dismal performance of Nigerian athletes at the IAAF World Relays in Yokohama, Japan.
He attributed the poor showing at the competition, held from May 11 to May 12, to lack of build-up competitions.
According to him, if Nigeria is to perform excellently in any competition, there must be early build-up competitions.
“My final take on the poor outing in Japan can be attributed to lack of build-up competitions prior to this world class event.
“And we need to camp our athletes soon, to ensure that we have enough time to prepare them well enough, before the next big events, All Africa Games.
“And hopefully, the athletes should run some international competitions, to hit the qualifying standards set by IAAF for relays at the World Championships,” he said.
NAN reports that All Africa Games will hold in Rabat, Morocco, from Aug. 19 to Aug. 31; while the IAAF World Championships will hold from Sept. 28 to Oct.6 in Doha, Qatar.
Soetan, however, lauded the country’s 4x100m women’s team, saying they are young and requiring additional exposure.
“Team Nigeria featured at the 2019 World Relays for two main reasons: for qualification purpose, which forms part of the requirements to feature our relay teams at the next World Championships.
“Two, was to expose our young athletes, who would soon replace our trusted matured legs.
“All in preparation for a good outing at this year’s All Africa Games, World Championships and ultimately, Tokyo Olympics, which is next year,” he said.
He also commended the team for exchanging the baton smoothly.
“The 4x100m women relay was strictly for exposure purpose; two of the trusted legs declined our invitation at the last minute.
“Therefore, we had a choice not to feature or allow our two young sprinters gain the necessary exposure at one of the highest levels of athletics competition.
“We are glad that they managed to pass the baton round smoothly, which in itself a success story,” Soetan said.
He said that though the other teams did not perform up to expectations, there was room for improvement.
Nigeria featured 11 athletes that competed in four relays; 4x100m women; 4x100m men; 4x400m women and 4x200m men.