The General Manager of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon Yussuf Alli has clarified why some runners are placed in the front cell in marathons and road races.
Alli said athletes’ pedigree and time in previous races determine where they are placed.
“Insinuation that Kenyans, Ethiopians and other foreign nationals are favoured at the detriment of Nigerians is completely untrue. The front cell, which is for elite men and women runners are normally reserved for athletes who have done below 2 hours, 45 minutes, 00seconds.
“These are the people that are likely to win, they are not just foreigners, and they also include Nigerians. At the 2016 and 2017 editions, we had over 100 elite athletes from Nigeria, and for the 2018 edition, we are likely to have over 200 elite athletes from Nigeria,” said Alli.
The General Manager said it is equally false that Nigerians cannot win the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon or any other marathon in any parts of the world, “East African runners are not better than Nigerians, the only difference is that they train harder and work harder. Running for them is business and they sacrifice everything to be the best in the world, our people must also imbibe this culture.”
Alli posited that the reason why we are not doing well today is because we are not investing in our talents, “the time that won the men race in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon was about 2hours, 15 minutes. About 30 years ago, a Nigerian marathoner Abass Muhammad was running that time. We also have other great runners who were running world class times but our refusal to invest in our talented athletes is responsible for the current decline. European, Americans, Japanese and even the Chinese have proved that the East African runners are beatable as they have beaten them in many of the world elite marathons,” Alli concluded.