Former Sports Minister and Chairman National Sports Commission (NSC) Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has commended new sprint sensation Divine Oduduru on his impressive performances at the Michael Johnson Invitational where a he ran a 9.94sec in the men 100m, Nigeria’s fastest since 2006 when Olusoji Fasuba ran a time of 9.85 sec to set a new African record.
At the same meet, Oduduru also ran 19.76 sec in the 200m to erase the former national record of 19.84 seconds set by Francis Obikwelu in 1999 at the World Championships in Seville Spain.
Mallam Abdullahi who was Minister of Sports and Chairman of NSC when Oduduru was discovered at the 2013 African Youth Championships in Warri, Delta State said he followed Oduduru progress since then and he was not surprised by his feats over the weekend.
“I was not surprised by his achievements, I never for a moment stopped following since we discovered him at the Warri 2013 AYAC which we hosted, I knew he was a world beater in waiting”.
Abdullahi posits that Nigerians and indeed the world has not seen the best of Oduduru as he has the potential to run faster and better.
“For him to start the season with such a fantastic time, I know he will get better and chances that he will make podium appearances at the All African Games in Morocco and the IAAF World Championships in Doha”.
Abduallahi also commend the Delta State Government and for their huge investment in sports and Evang. Solomon Ogba for his uncommon passion for athletics and investment of personal resources in Nigerian athletes irrespective of where they come from.
As Minister of Sports and Chairman of NSC Abdullahi support for athletics was unprecedented in the history of Sports Nigeria.
Apart from personal support for athletes, Abdullahi is the first and the only Minister to attend AFN Golden League, African Championships at Youth, Junior and Senior level and the IAAF World Championships.
When the High-Performance Center in Abuja was established, Abduallhi ensured the employment of many athletes’ coaches and generously supported athletes.
The culture of international marathons and road races revived by Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode in February 2016 is spreading like wildfire.
The latest cities to catch the bug courtesy Nilayo Sports Management are Abuja and Abeokuta and both did with a record, they became the first races in the history of Nigeria that their routes will be measured, calibrated and certificates issued by IAAF and AIMS before the race.
Their routes were measured and calibrated by world-renowned measurer Norrie Williamson who measured the route of four Olympic Games and many of the world best road races and marathons.
Bukola Olopade the Chief Executive Officer of Nilayo Sports Management Limited revealed that the Abuja City Marathon will hold October 13, 2019, and Abeokuta City Marathon November 3, 2010.
Olopade said Abuja the federal capital deserved a full marathon and he thanked the president of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Ibrahim Gusau for giving Nilayo Sports the patent for Abuja City Marathon.
He also said Abeokuta the cradle of civilization in Nigeria has witnessed consistent progress since returned to civil rule.
“Segun Osoba opened up the city and the state, Gbenga Daniels moved the city and state from a civil service state to a corporate state while the present government of Ibikunle Amosun has done well in the area of road construction in Abeokuta metropolis, an Abeokuta City Marathon will open the city and the state to the world especially it tourism potentials, the socio-economic and health benefits of the marathon to the city and the state cannot be quantifiable.”
Olopade revealed Nilayo has already secured six sponsors for Abeokuta City Marathon while a telecom giant and an automobile company have signed on for Abuja City Marathon.
He attributed the record-breaking feats of the two races, certification by IAAF/AIMS before the race to Nilayo’s hardworking staff like Yussuf Alli who he believes Nigeria own a debt for his immense contribution to sports development.