National sprinters Agnes Osazuwa, Orukpe Erayokan and Tega Odele have expressed their disappointment in the Athletic Federation of Nigeria over the failure of the AFN to pay them their prize money for the 2016 Golden League.
Our correspondent learnt that the federation is also owing other athletes who emerged victorious in their respective races in the competition, which was held in three venues – Sagamu, Abuja and Sapele.
The AFN promised to pay each Golden League event winner N50,000 for each leg while those who came second were promised N30,000 each for each leg and N20, 000 each for third-placed finishers.
The new athletics season kicks off in April with the Daniel Olukoya Youth Championships in Lagos. The federation will also hold three Golden League legs before the national trials for the World Championships in London in August.
The athletes, who spoke with our correspondent, said they needed the money for their preparations for the new season.
“We have not been paid for last year’s Golden League and it is not an encouraging thing for most of us,” 100m and 200m runner Osazuwa said.
“The country is really tough and we know it but the motivation most of us have is that we always hope for the better. The new season will soon begin and we need money to prepare for it,” the sprinter, who represented Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, added.
“If we have that, it will assist us in putting some things in place. The World Championships is getting nearer and we need to better our current performances to stand a chance of doing well there.”
Erayokan, who also represented the country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, said his target was to better his current personal best to enable him to make the team for the World Championships.
The 400m runner said, “To achieve my aim, I know I need to train very hard. But that training doesn’t come easy and cheap. It will take a lot of money. The federation is still owing us from last year’s Golden League and we will soon compete in another one this year.
“Some of us won at two Golden League events and having that money in our pockets will enable us to get ready for the season, which is fast approaching.”
Odele, a 200m runner, said, “I am training ahead of the new season but the finance has been tough. I don’t even know how much the federation owes me but I know they have records. If such money can come in, my target of getting a medal at the World Championships can be met.”
However, spokesman for the AFN, Kayode Thomas, who confirmed that the federation was owing the athletes, said the financial crisis in the AFN contributed to the delay in paying the athletes.
“It is true that the federation is owing some athletes from last year’s Golden League but it is not all of them as some have received their money,” he said.
“The current financial status of the federation is responsible for that because the ministry hasn’t released any fund for the federation for a while now. Those who were paid were even paid from the president’s purse.
“Once the funds are available, the athletes will surely be paid what is due to them.”