By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Former Nigeria athlete Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotosho, hopes the country will host the Commonwealth Games soon in the future, but admits such an epoch event can only come to fruition when the country's economy improves, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Ogunkoya who won a silver medal in the 4x400m relay at the 1996 Olympics and also a bronze medal in the 400m of same tournament spoke exclusively to Completesportsnigeria.com on Thursday on the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Africa's chances of hosting the event in future.
"Nigeria has always been ripe to host the Commonwealth Games. We won 11 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze medals at the last Games in Glasgow to place 8th, so definitely, we can do it. Unfortunately, Durban will not host in 2022. Hopefully, an African country will be able to convince the Commonwealth Federation of our ability to do it," she tells Completesportsnigeria.com.
"I agree that the economy is not where we desire at the moment but with Nigeria being one of the strongest Commonwealth Federations, I expect that the Nigerian government can support that aspiration in some years from now.
"Nigeria have attended most of the Games with the exception of a few editions (1962, 1978, 1986 and 1998), and have produced great athletes. and I am convinced our athletes will be up for it in 2018."
Ogunkoya appreciates the efforts of the Lagos State government in ensuring youth development and its dream of producing quality athletes in future.
"We have the resources to host and I am happy the Lagos State government have pledged to do more in talent development and school sports programmes so that the next generation of athletes can return Nigeria to that level of the past," remarks the legendary athlete who made her breakthrough in the sprints at the 1986 World Junior Championships in Athens, Greece.
The 48-year-old was present in Lagos when former Olympic and Commonwealth Games athletes and major stakeholders in Nigerian sports gathered in Lagos to receive the Queen’s Baton which arrived in Nigeria on April 1.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games hold by from April 4 to 18, 2018 Gold Coast, Australia.
Durban was stripped of the right to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games on March 13 2017 after a trail of missed deadlines and financial problems that highlighted the daunting burdens facing host cities for major sporting events.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) said the South African coastal city had failed to meet the promises contained in its bid.