Former African long champion and Edo State Sports Commission Chairman, Yusuf Alli has called for measures to curtail age cheating in Nigeria sports, if the country wishes to compete and win at the world level.
Alli, who still holds the national long jump record of 8.27m was speaking against the background of alleged wide spread use of over aged athletes by some states at the on-going National Youth Games.
He stated that the NYG is a developmental competition and not a win at all cost competition.
“If we run the right age sports will grow; if we cheat sports will not grow,” Alli said at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
“I can give you an example. There was this guy back in the days, who ran in Oluyole ’79 national festival, in 1984 he now ran junior with the likes of Gabriel okon.
“This guy am talking about was older than me. When I was running senior he was running junior, but at the end of the day what was the out come? What was his input to Nigerian sports? So this is how cheating has been killing Nigerian sports.”
He submitted that by cutting their ages, athletes are only doing themselves a disfavour.
” If an athletes who is 18 is claiming to be 14, how can he improve if he is getting the training of a 14 year old? For instance for 14 year old you can only load them with 1000m of training per section. For 18 you are supposed to do 1700m per section, so how can an athlete improve?
“This is how cheating is gradually killing sports in the country. Some State’s want to win and win at all cost, it is not about winning but about developing young talents.
” This is what we must be preaching to everyone that cheating is killing the sport rather develop it.
“You have people in their prime still running junior. In Edo we are not winning at all cost, our kids are like diamond, they are still going through the process and they are going to shine in the future. they will be happy, their family will be happy.”
He said the country should learn a lesson from how Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume climbed the ladder to the world level.
“Amusan and Brume, they were juniors back in 2013 and in ten years they developed to achieving results at the world level.
“We must not allow age cheats to continue if we want more athletes like them. This country is blessed with so much talents and if we catch them young and do the right thing we would be competing with the top sporting nation in the world.”