Veteran coach Tony Osheku has listed the things Nigeria should do to produce world class runners that will give Kenyan and Ethiopian elite athletes a run for their money.
Osheku, who was speaking against the background of the proposed National Cross Country Championships in Jos February 18, said there has to be a deliberate programme right from kindergarten to the senior level.
He added that the Kenyans and Ethiopians are where they are, because of training.
“We cannot produce long distance runners overnight,” Osheku said
“Ask the long distance coaches how many miles their athletes have covered. In order to be a world class runner you need to run at least 12,00km right from junior to senior.
“But how many coaches and athletes in Nigeria keep a record of mileage they have covered?
“They just do workouts and no purposeful training towards achieving world standard time. The athletes are supposed to cover 12,000 miles, at least 2, 000 miles every year.”
He said for Nigerian athletes to catch up, they have to start participating in cross country races right from the beginning and sadly there isn’t any such programme in Nigeria. “There is supposed to be a cross country programme right from kindergarten.
“And they are supposed to be counting the mileage right from junior and by the time he or she does 12,000km, the athlete is ready to be world class.
“We have to start with cross country that is basic start for any long distance runner, if we want to do well, we must have a cross country programme from secondary school to the senior level
“It is training that got the East Africans where they are. When I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, there was this Kenyan athlete Henry Rono, the first man to break 13mins in the 5,000m. He used to come and train using the high altitude. “It is the same high altitude we have in places like Mambila and Jos, but we don’t have any programme using those places to groom junior athletes. “We have been telling the authorities let’s have a cross country for juniors, but nobody seems to care and that is why you see our athletes unable to compete with world class. You have our men running at the same time with world class women in the marathon,” Osheku added.
Osheku was Falilat Ogunkoya’s coach when she won a bronze in the women’s 400m and silver in the 4x400m at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. He also coached former African 100m men record holder Seun Ogunkoya.

Share On Social Media