The Athletics Federation Nigeria (AFN) has described as unfortunate the attitude of some Nigerians who took to the social media to deride the vest wore by sprinter, Favour Ofili during the 4 x 100 metres event at the just concluded 18th World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States.
Letter ‘i’ was missing from the spelling of Nigeria on Ofili’s vest, which necessitated disparaging comments about Nigeria and its sports organisers.
According to AFN, instead of celebrating the unprecedented feats achieved by sprint hurdler Tobi Amusan, who set a new 100 metres hurdles world record enroute to winning Nigeria’s first gold medal. and long jumper Ese Brume who became the first Nigerian to win a medal in two straight World Championships, the critics rather chose to paint the federation in bad light.
“It is really disheartening to know that a few Nigerians could shift their focus from the incredible feats our athletes performed in Oregon, which attracted commendation from the President, Muhammadu Buhari to a factory error made by giant sports wear and equipment company, NIKE and which affected just the vest Ofili wore at the championships”, AFN Secretary General, Prince Adeniyi Adisa Beyioku said.
He further said: “NIKE is a well known and respected kit and equipment manufacturer and agreed to kit our team to the championships. One of the samples they made was mistakenly packed with those delivered to the federation in Oregon and instead of looking at the company’s reputation and that of the AFN, especially the present executive Board under the leadership of Chief Tonobok Ojuru Okowa, they chose to deliberately escalate a non-issue but failed to put it at the front burner of discussions”.
Beyioku said AFN is not distracted by the actions of the “idle few” and has already shifted focus to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where it hopes to record Nigeria’s best ever performance.
He explained: “Since this Board took over the reins of athletics in June 2021, we have either put Nigeria back on the world map or created unprecedented feats. Last year at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, the athletics team returned to the podium 13 long years after making such an appearance.
“At the U20 World Athletics Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, we achieved unprecedented feats in the history of Nigeria’s participation in the championships and the result of that is the number of our young athletes that have attained world class status in just one year with one of them even breaking a long standing Nigerian record at only 19”.
The AFN Secretary General siad the federation also returned Nigeria to the podium at the World Indoor Championships in Serbia 14 years after Olusoji Fasuba last did.
He added: “Tobi Amusan also won the 100 metres hurdles Diamond League crown, an unprecedented feat she capped with a first ever World Championships gold and world record.
“These feats are worth celebrating and the father of the nation, the President and the number one man in sports under whose tenure these unprecedented feats have been achieved, Sunday Dare have led the celebrations. We will like to invite those still fixated on looking for the ‘i’ in Ofili’s vest to join the train as this AFN is not done yet in making sure we reposition the sport of track and field”.