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Nigerian Athletes Will Shine This Year - Deji Aliu

Former international, Deji Aliu, who is also the current coach of Joy Udo-Gabriel shares his expectations of the forthcoming All Africa Games and the World Championships

Deji Aliu / Photo credit: PremiumTimesng.com
Deji Aliu / Photo credit: PremiumTimesng.com

Deji Aliu, former international and current coach of one of the country’s prospect for medals at the All African Games and the IAAF World Championships, Joy Udo-Gabriel, has promised to raise more athletes for the country through the Making of Champions Track and Field club:

How would you assess the performance of the country’s athletes recently, especially at the last National Sports Festival?

I was very pleased with the performance of the sprinters at the festival. It was very heart-warming especially seeing athletes running 10.4secs to qualify in the heat; it showed that we are stepping up, the future looks good and we have to replicate that in management so that we can balance the two for maximum result.

Do you see the country performing well at the All Africa Games and the World Championships?

Although it is not going to be what I wanted, but they are going to perform well. We will achieve podium finish especially at the AAG.

Recently, the men have not been performing well. Do you see this changing this year?

The men are really coming up. When I was talking about performances in Abuja, I was particularly referring to 100m men’s event. Seeing about four or five guys coming up under 10.4secs shows we are gradually coming up and looking at those athletes, they are young with years ahead of them. Anytime I check the result, it gives me so much joy and hope for the future.

I know the standard is going to be very high and I think we are ready. We have done all we need to do and all that remains for the team is to go out there and show the world what we have been doing the last couple of months.

As a coach with MoC Track and Field club, how are you preparing your athletes for the 2019 athletic year?

I have doubled my efforts as a coach and now my experience as an ex-international is coming to play. The expectation is very high now especially with what we have been able to achieve last year.

We need to do more and as at now we have doubled the training and every other thing we are doing. I am looking forward to 2019 with so much expectation.

I know the standard is going to be very high and I think we are ready. We have done all we need to do and all that remains for the team is to go out there and show the world what we have been doing the last couple of months.

All eyes were on Joy at the Sports Festival especially after what she achieved in 2018. Was your team disappointed with her bronze medal finish in Abuja?

I was not disappointed. I was very happy with what she did. The festival came at a time that athletes were back to their build up training for the new season, it was off season for the athletes and it was difficult to manage most of them especially after they had competed in so many championships during the year.

I did a lot to make Joy compete to that level and I was able to do that because of my past experience. I was so happy that she was able to get something from the festival. Joy had so many competitions in 2018.

While other athletes were resting, Joy was at the University Games, competing for her school. So, there was pretty little time for her to really prepare. We already started preparation for the year, working so hard for her and others to perform beyond expectations.

Are you saying we are going to have more athletes like Joy coming out this year?

It is going to be more than Joy. I am going to have at least four athletes representing the country. I am not ready to mention names: this year is going to be great for MoC.

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