Lagos - An Olympian, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, says that no
Nigerian has broken her 20 years record in 200m which spans from 1996 to date
is a sign of athletics underdevelopment in Nigeria.
Onyali-Omagbemi won the women’s 200m at the 1996
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Championships on Aug.
14 in Zurich, returning 20.07 secs.
She won the bronze medal in the 4×100 m relay at the 1992
Olympic Games and in the 200m at the 1996 Olympic Games. She also won the 1994
Commonwealth Games 100m title.
Onyali-Omagbemi made the assertion on the sidelines of the
Heritage Bank-Lagos State Skoolimpics which began at the Teslim Balogun
Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, on Wednesday.
The 20 years record, however, remains unbroken by subsequent
sprinters that have represented Nigeria in the Olympics and other competitions.
Onyali-Omagbemi said that the state of athletics in the
country should be a cause for concern for stakeholders in the sports industry.
Also read: Onyali optimistic of Commonwealth Games success
“For the developmental side of me which I think is the best
and is 100 per cent true, the record should have been broken.
“A record lasting 20 years and still counting is not in any
way a form of development at all; someone should be encouraged to break it.
“The 100m record has been broken but the 200m is a monster.
It is such a difficult sprint that requires endurance.
“Sprinters can get away with 100m without enduring but 200m
is a different race where endurance is twice that of the 100m race.
“It is more difficult,’’ she said lamenting that the sport
was going down.
“No one is happy with the current state of athletics in the
country, especially for us in the family of athletics. It has been headaches day
“Athletics needs all the support it can get from the private
sector because in the face of the country’s economic downturn, government alone
cannot fund sports.
“What government should focus on now is to provide the
enabling environment and infrastructure for the athletes to thrive and leave the
financial part of it to the private sector.
“Like what the Heritage bank is doing now, developing the
talents of youths which could also be a pilot scheme at addressing the problem
Onyali-Omagbemi said that the N10 million endowments by the
bank for a sprinter to possibly break the record should be an encouragement for
anyone to attempt it.
“Other ex-internationals and I are trying to put up a
similar event to what the bank is doing to compliment the efforts of the Lagos
“The Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo,
has put up a bait of N10 million for anyone who will beat my records, this is
an encouragement enough for anyone to take up the challenge.
“Although as tempting as the price may seem, hard work must
come to play for such an individual. The person must have the 22.07 secs on his
or her mind,’’ she said.
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