Louisiana State University athlete and student, Mercy Abire, has said the country must do more for their athletes to get the best from them. The Long and Triple Jumper told our correspondent that schools in the US made sports and academics easy to combine:
How has it been combining education with your career as an athlete in the US?
Well, combining my education with my athletics is a great experience because everything works with time and there are people out there who are enforcers to make sure we meet every target and everything.
So I have to go to school in the morning around 8’o clock and I am done with classes by 12:50pm and I have to rest for an hour and then go for training by 2:30pm and I’m done with training by 4:30pm so everything is just programme work and being working with time to get all that.
You were in Nigeria before travelling to the US. Can you compare your experience over there and what you’ve experienced especially with education and sports in Nigeria?
Combining education with sports in Nigeria is not easy. But Nigeria is a training ground. The United States is easy and Nigeria is tough, but the toughness has helped me to overcome many challenges outside.
2019 is going to be a big year for you; African Games and the World Championships. What should we expect from Mercy Abire?
Well, just watch out for what I am going to achieve. I already started my season with the Indoor Championships, and now we are tick into the outdoors. I am looking forward to achieving my best and making my country proud.
In the US, you need to do well in your academics so that you can be eligible to compete. If you fail in class you can’t compete
Would you say moving to the U.S has helped you to even improve your career?
Yes. Going to the States has really helped me because I am able to compete every week. In the US, we have the indoor season and the outdoor season and every week I am able to improve any mistake I make.
My coach is able to correct me, so competing every week has helped me. I know I am going to get there but I just have to trust the process and believe in my coach because I know that he has a lot of package for me.
The national sports festival is coming again after six years. Would you say the long lull has had a negative impact on athletes?
Well I am not really bothered about the National Sports Festival. We need to improve in the Golden League, encourage upcoming athletes, encourage the athletes that are down, help them, give them good medicals.
We need a good president (for the Federation); we need everything to be stable and upright because if you compare Nigeria and other advanced countries, everything is organised over there.
Here, everything is just rough. To be honest I am really disappointed about how the setting here because it is not programmed well.
What can you say they are doing right over there that we need to emulate?
In the US, you need to do well in your academics so that you can be eligible to compete. If you fail in class you can’t compete.
So, you have to work hard. That’s why they call it student-athlete. You have to work hard in school and on track because you have to place both together.
The coaches (in the US) understand that the challenges are much when it comes to school, but they try to encourage all the athletes.