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High Altitude Athletics Club Coach, Stephen Nuhu has said that distance runners in Nigeria will forever be grateful to Chief Sunday Dare, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development for giving them the attention they have longed be craving for as he prepares his athletes for the first National Cross Country race holding Saturday in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.
Nuhu has coached many long distance runners to national reckoning and is delighted with the efforts the Sports Minister is making to ensure distance running is developed in Nigeria.
“I am grateful to the Sports Minister for giving us the attention we are getting now. He is the first Sports Minister in almost forty years who has made that conscious effort to see to the development of distance running in Nigeria. I remember we had a camp for some selected distance runners last year here in Jos and chief Dare has demonstrated it is not a one-off with the staging of the Cross Country race this weekend also in Jos,” said Nuhu.
The High Altitude Athletics club coach is the most recognised trainer of distance runners in Nigeria and believes cross-country running will help in the development of the athletes physical and mental strength.
Nuhu is also grateful to the race Coordinator, Chief Tony Osheku who he says has been relentless in his fight to see that distance runners are accorded a pride of place in Nigerian athletics.
“His (Osheku’s) passion for distance running is infectious and I am glad we have a man like that who is championing our cause,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Osheku says all arrangements are in place for a successful event on Saturday.
“The course has been measured and I want to believe we will have a real cross country race on Saturday. This is the start of that great journey we are making to make our distance runners achieve that world class standard that will make them competitive in local, continental and international road race championships and Games.
“This great start will not have been possible without the help of the Sports Minister who insists the event must hold to kick start the rebirth of distance running in Nigeria. He sees a lot of prospects in the athletes and believes they can earn big money running in the circuit to become poverty alleviators and invariably contribute to Nigeria’s gross domestic product like the east Africans are doing.”
Osheku is also delighted World Athletics has reserved eight spots for cross country runners in the 27-athlete field in the men and women’s 10,000 meters at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August.
“Yes, World Athletics will extend eight invitations to athletes based on their World Cross Country Ranking for both the Worlds in Budapest this August and the 2024 Olympics in Paris. This is great news and our athletes can take advantage of this in the not too distant future.”