EXCLUSIVE By Dare Esan In Beijing:
Quartermile barrier runner, Kemi Adekoya, has exclusively told Complete Sports why she switched allegiance to Bahrain.
Adekoya is one of the very top 400m hurdlers in the world today and has broken 55 seconds more than any other Nigerian woman in history and has even broken the 54.40 seconds national record set by Ajoke Odumosu at the London 2012 Olympics.
She showed promise of a star-in-the making at the 2013 Athletic Federation of Nigeria Golden League series by emerging the lone winner od its jackpot prize.
She confirmed her growing status in June of that year when she chased Odumosu to the finish line to run 55.30 seconds, an incredible run by an athlete based at home. Odumosu won the race in 55.19 seconds.
Many local pundits feel that should have been enough for the federation to take special notice of her.
“Yes they did but wanted me to go to a University in the USA when I was already a 400 level student at the University of Lagos,” began Adekoya who was one of the favourites for a medal here in Beijing but had the misfortune of hitting a hurdle and crashing out.
“I thought they -AFN- would come up with another plan like funding my training but they were so obsessed with this USA thing.Till I am speaking to you I have not been paid the jackpot prize I won in the Golden League.”
Adekoya was also labelled a drugs cheat after she refused to be teleguided by the AFN.
“I heard about it too. I was said to be on drugs and that accounted for the 55.30 seconds I ran at the Warri Relays.Thank God I have not been found wanting. I have been tested several times since I started running for Bahrain and I have not only improved by breaking 55 seconds in the event culminating in my setting a new Asian record, I have always returned clean,” she told completesportsnigeria.com.
Adekoya is not regretting changing allegiance because she felt she would have been forced to retire early due to frustration.
She added: “I see what some of the athletes are going through now and I feel ashamed of the whole set-up. ”
Many journalists here have been asking why Nigeria has continued to nose dive in track and field.
Some of the Kenyan journalists even offerred to grant our reporter temporary citizenship so that he can celebrate with them when Kenya wins.
On Monday Kenya picked two gold medals in the women’s 10,000m and the men’s steeplechase.
Two Kenyans qualified for the final of the men’s 400m hurdles with performances better than the 48.50 seconds 28-year-old Nigeria record set by Prince Henry Amike.