opined that indiscipline and wrong lifestyles are the reasons Nigerian male athletes have failed to shine on the tracks when it matters most.
Nigeria has remained relevant in athletics courtesy of laurels won by the womenfolk in recent time. Africa’s fastest woman, Blessing Okagbare, tops a list of women that have won medals for the country at the international stage.
Okagbare recently teamed up with Regina George, Dominique Duncan and Christy Udoh to win the women’s 4x200m at the 2015 World Relays in the Bahamas. But the men have yet to post similar results since the exit of the likes of late Sunday Bada, Uchenna Emedolu, Deji Aliu and Enefiok Udo-Obong.
The President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, Dr. Solomon Ogba, once said the male athletes could not attract sponsorship because they failed to improve themselves, and Ajunwa-Opara shared in his opinion.
“It’s not that the men cannot excel like the ladies do on the track, the problem is that there are distractions and also the lack of sponsorship for them,” Ajunwa-Opara said on Thursday.
“Oftentimes the women are favoured by would-be sponsors, they usually attract pity from people; but the men are most times on their own.
“In my time, it was Segun Odegbami that took me out of this country [to the USA] to improve my skills. When I got there, I dedicated myself to training, and the rest is history. But you hardly get the menfolk being given such an opportunity.
“Another problem some of the men have is indiscipline. This is a major hindrance in the men’s career.
“The men need to be more focussed; they have to know what they are doing all the time. They must have the self-conviction that they know where they’re headed in their career.
“How can you say you want to be an international athlete but you can’t abstain from womanising or alcohol consumption. Such a lifestyle will reduce any man’s strength. It takes self-discipline to be a champion.
“When I started athletics, I had no boyfriend or anyone that could pose as distraction. I concentrated on my career because I knew what I wanted.”