Femi Ogunode, winning Gold for Qatar at the Asian Games.
Former Nigerian Youth athlete and now Qatari National Champion and Asian record holder in the 200m, Femi Ogunode says Nigerian athletes were treated badly and neglected while in training in the USA towards the preparation for the commonwealth Games earlier this year.
Speaking passionately when he came for the Diamond League in Lausanne, he revealed to me what some athletes had told him when they had met during the Penn relays in America.
‘ They were sad and complained that they had no money.’ He revealed. ‘ I had to personally give them money to eat. It was embarrassing. These were my colleagues, some my seniors when I was in Nigeria. They begged me for money and food. They had lots of complaints. I think they should be treated well. They are afraid to talk. No one listens to them.’
Femi, who spoke happily and gleefully about how he is being treated in Qatar. This news is coming just as reports in Nigeria reveals that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria ran a slave camp in USA.
‘I am like a king. I am given all i need to train. I am looked after well. My family is with me too and they were given jobs.’
The father of one revealed that he left Nigeria after they were dropped from the Junior team despite qualifying for the major competition.
‘We were all sad. The members of the 4 x 400m relay team, we were dropped from the selection and were not even paid. We were told we were not good enough. It was sad. So when the opportunity came, I took it happily. I love Nigeria but needed to take care of myself and my future, that is why I refused to change my name even when I was told by the Qatari authorities. I said I wanted my identity to remain..I will never change my name or renounce my country.’
Having a chat with Femi just before his race at the Diamond League in Lausanne, Switzerland.
While the Athletics Federation of Nigeria have gone around shopping for non Nigerian athletes past their prime in the USA, Qatar seems to be getting the best of our young talents. Femi Ogunode is joined in Qatar by his younger brother Tosin, and also Samuel Francis. As a matter of fact the trio formed a relay team with ‘a very young Qatari boy who runs 11 seconds in the 100m’, as Femi put it, and they defeated Nigeria’s national 4x 100m relay team in the Penn Relays earlier this year.
It should be recalled that Nigeria’s male 4 x 100m team have failed to even qualify for the last three major championships as they have been unable to run qualifying times. While Femi was Number 10 in the indoor world ranking this year with 6,51 seconds in the 60m, and his younger brother was world number 8 with 6.50 seconds.