By Dare Esan:
Tony Osheku, one of the most successful coaches Nigeria has ever produced, is at the head of a three-man Nigerian delegation to the 3rd IAAF Coaches Conference which began Monday on the sideline of the 16th IAAF World Championships in London, United Kingdom.
Others who attended the opening session of the four-day conference at the Hilton Canary Wharf in London includes Gabriel Okon who is the president of Nigerian Coaches Association and Patience Itanyi, the most visible and internationally-exposed female coach in Nigeria.
The conference will discuss modern trends in coaching and some of the topics to be covered include physiological and metabolic background of endurance/strength/speed training,practical consequences for science-based endurance/strength/speed training and best practise of endurance/strength/speed/brain training.
Osheku, who coached Falilat Ogunkoya to two Olympic medals in 1996 and two African records as well as the number spot in the women's 400m in 1998, explains that the conference will also include what is required to coach world-class athletes.
"It will also discus the brain as a performance-limiting factor. This conference is coming at the right time as we strive to relaunch Nigerian track and field and one of the key ingredients towards achieving that is getting in tune with modern trends in coaching,'said the coach who trained Mohammed Khouaja to a 49.98 seconds national record and gold medal finish in the 400m at the African Championships in Nairobi, Kenya in 2010. It was also Libya's first ever medal in the championships.
Meanwhile Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) president, Honourable Ibrahim Gusau, is delighted with the timing of the coaches conference. "It is an open secret that Nigeria is no longer a force in continental athletics and one of the reasons has to do with the failure to train and retrain our coaches. This is one of the cardinal programmes of the new administration I am heading and we will use this conference to kick-start this very important aspect of our plan," he said.
Gusau also explained that the coaches for the on-going world championships were selected not only because of their experience but also because of the need to choose coaches who can easily grasp what will be discussed at the conference and in return share their experience with other coaches when they return to Nigeria.