It didn’t take long for all the finger pointing for those countries who did not qualify for the top 16 spots in Beijing.
Personally, I don’t see why the list can’t be expanded to 24 teams with a 3 heat semi-final (top 2 and 2 fastest times)
Last week I posted 4Ã—100 meter Relay in Beijing from the IAAF press release.
The women’s Nigerian team missed the last spot by 0.04 seconds.
On the men’s 4x400m side, Nigeria is not known as a sprint powerhouse, but they had been a force in recent 4Ã—400m Olympics with a silver in Sydney 2000 and a bronze in Athens 2004. They weren’t even on the list this time around.
From All Africa News, Let the Finger Pointing Begin!
Nigeria: Athletics Buffs Lament Relay Fiasco
Though the Athletics Federation of Nigeria is still battling belatedly to have the women 4x100m relay team reinstalled into the top 16 list of nations for the Beijing 2008 Olympics, events that led to Nigeria’s ouster continues to generate debate among athletics buffs.
The pertinent question that was being asked all through the week was, why did the AFN and to some extent the National Sports Commission wait till the dying seconds before they made bold to rally the team into qualification?
Sprinter, Uche Isaac described it as medicine after death even as he stopped short of calling for the resignation of the entire AFN board. According Uche the road to disaster began at the African Championships in Ethiopia where the most of country’s athletes put up below average performance.
The male team failed to finish their relay race in the final, they were only lucky to have ran a fantastic time at the last All Africa Games in Algeria. It was that time they hung onto for survival in the list of top 16
The women 4x100m won the gold in Addis Ababa, but their aggregate time of 87.37 seconds was only good enough to put them on the last rung of the ladder; they crashed out on July 6 after Thailand recorded a better time.
“The dangers of us crashing out has always been there. We needed to take these girls out to improve on their time as far back as May, but we sat back and watched hoping that everything will be okay,” said coach Tony Osheku.
The AFN earmarked some IAAF sanctioned meets for the teams including the men’s 4x400m to attend before and after the Mobil Championships. The men’s 4x400m quartet led by Goddy James had their chance to improve on the 3.03.09 that placed them at the 20th position when they went to Tunis permit meet. But they could only return a miserable 3.05.06 that did not take them anywhere, but disqualification zone.
The women 4x100m featuring Damola Osayomi with a personal best of 11.08 did not get the chance to run any relay meet. Osayomi and the others on the team missed four good days of training as they waited in vain at the airport, waiting for their trip to Greece to happen.
“The AFN technical committee is not serious. We told them at the African Championships about the need to take the team out early, but they would concentrate on the teams. All they were interested in was to run after Ethiopian girls,” said an athlete at the National Stadium.
Former AFN president Dan Ngerem could not hide his frustration. “I don’t understand what is happening at the AFN anymore. I expected that they should have done better than they did. I cannot imagine that our men 4x400m that has won silver twice in the Olympics did not qualify and I would want to ask what is Sunday Bada doing as technical director? He was a former quartermiler who won silver in the relay,” Ngerem wondered.
AFN scribe Maria Wophil said Nigeria will launch a protest to the IAAF, based on the summation that the athletes were not granted visas to attend the meet they were supposed to go and pick up qualification points.
But athletics observers are of the view that those are just face saving comments. The deed has been done and Nigeria is out of contention for the relay medal. It is only hope that the men 4x100m and women 4x400m make the country proud at the Games.
And after the Olympics Nigerians should be told exactly who is in charge of the AFN. It appears that contending interest between members of the Federation’s board on one hand and external factors close to the office of the NSC director-general has not helped matters.