The curse of the faulty Nigerian sports system struck again as the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) have disallowed two athletes Ezinne Abba and Alaba Akintola from representing the country at the World Athletics Championship in Oregon.
Ezinne Abba is a 21-year-old US-born sprinter who only recently completed her switch of allegiance from the USA to Nigeria. She was in Benin City at the end of June to participate in the national qualifiers for the World Athletics Championship and was part of the Team Nigeria A team that finished the 4x100m in 43.43s alongside Grace Nwokocha, Rosemary Chukwuma and Tobi Amusan.
Abba qualified for the women’s 100m as well, having clocked a blistering time of 11.12s. She has a personal best time of 22.85s over 200m. According to a post on Instagram by the 21-year-old sprinter, she passed two of three out-of-competition tests but was denied access to a third test by the AFN, with the fear of failure being their reason for denying her the test. Abba was informed that she would not be a part of the Championship 40 minutes before she was to board her flight to Oregon, shattering her dream of representing the country.
Similarly, male sprinter Alaba Akintola also revealed via his Instagram that he would not be taking part in the World Athletics Championship in Oregon. The Middle Tennessee University student qualified for three events at the Championship but has been denied a place in the competition for a similar reason to Abba’s.
Akintola revealed that the AFN have claimed that he did not complete his out-of-competition tests, but the sprinter tendered evidence of his tests to prove that the decision to remove him from the team was purely political.
Akintola qualified for the 100m with a personal best time of 10.04s in Benin City and the 200m with a time of 20.26s. He also played a major role in helping Team Nigeria to qualify for the men’s 4x100m relay with a time of 38.34s.
Like Ezinne Abba and Alaba Akintola, several Nigerian athletes were prevented from participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics due to the negligence of AFN in securing their participation. This is another example of how the AFN and Sports minister Sunday Dare have contrived to fail Nigerian athletes.