United States-based Nigerian sprinter, Divine Oduduru is unhappy with the treatment given to him by those handling sports in Nigeria.
“Sometimes I really think about running for another country,” Oduduru told The Guardian Digital from his base in Texas, United States.
Oduduru had qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games in both the 100m and 200m events after ruling the collegiate circuits last year. He was looking forward to making a bold step in Tokyo before the Games was moved to 2021 due the outbreak of the coronavirus. Oduduru become the ninth Nigerian athlete ever to run a sub-10 since Olusoji Fasuba in 2006.
Oduduru spoke on a number of issues, particulrly his relationship with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). When asked if the AFN had reached out to him since the lockdown over COVID-19 as well as the postponement of Tokyo 2020, Oduduru said: “They don’t even care about you. They don’t care about what is happening to you. Even when your season is on, nobody calls to know how your season is going. Is it when there is a pandemic that they will pay attention to you? None of them reached out.”
He hinted that the attitude of the AFN and the sports ministry had forced him to consider running for another country saying: “You sacrifice your time and energy for something people don’t really see, and when you make mistakes everyone wants to look at the mistakes you make. Nobody want to look at the effort you’ve made to get to that stage.”
“It really gets to me. So, most times I think about running for another country. But Nigeria is my country. It is still going to be my country. I am going to represent my country, no matter what,” Oduduru stated.
Asked if he had been approached by any other country, Oduduru replied: “I think that is a little private.” He stated that he wasn’t really surprised when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was postponed saying: “The Olympics needed to be postponed due to the situation the world is passing through.”
The lockdown may have affected Oduduru in many ways. Though he still goes to the track, but can’t access the gym and weight room due to the lockdown rules in Texas.
“We can’t really do much training to get us ready to compete. That is why the competition needed to be postponed. You can only go the track and have some runs. We are only doing the little we can in our homes. I jog in my home and have sit-ups.”On his target at the Tokyo Olympics, the sprinter said: “When it comes to my target, I don’t really tell people. I keep it between me and God.”