The national under-19 swimming coach, Reuben Amos, on Sunday blamed the inability of Nigerian swimmers to appear on the 2018 African Youth Games’ medals table on lack of adequate competitions.
Amos, who spoke in Abuja lamented that lack of competitions militates against the full harnessing of athletes’ raw talents, thereby leading to dire consequences at international tournaments.
“We have talented athletes but we cannot get the best from them through short preparations. The passion is there, but the preparation has not been enough.
“You cannot compare athletes who prepared for less than two months without competitions in a whole year with others who prepared for four years with various competitions each year.
“We need to have more competitions where athletes could compete with their peers across the country and then move to the next level,” he said.
Amos coached 10 male and female swimmers camped in Abuja for over a month ahead of the continental championship held in Algeria in July.
Amos added that it would be unfair to say national coaching crew officials were incompetent when talented athletes have performed poorly.
“The standard is the same, in spite of that preparation gap, which is tournaments from time to time. Our athletes only missed out from the medals bracket by a few seconds.
“That shows they could have done better if they had been exposed to competitions like three times within a year.
“For example, the last National Sports Festival was held in 2012. So, one can appreciate the challenge of competing with athletes who prepared seriously through four competitions a year for four consecutive years,” he said.
However, the junior team coach acknowledged that there was now a light at the end of the tunnel and called on other stakeholders to complement governments’ efforts to develop sports.
“I understand that the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Championship will be held by the end of August. But it should be constant.
“Preparation is a collective effort of athletes, federation, government, sponsors and other stakeholders. More sponsors should come on board so that our sports can get better,” he said.
Speaking also, Muhammed Sani, the Secretary-General of Nigeria Aquatic Federation (NAF), assured that the federation would intensify efforts in getting more competitions.
He however said while this was going on, Nigerians in diaspora would be engaged to better the country’s global rating in swimming.
“We are already in touch with Nigerian athletes in diaspora. They have a good record globally and are willing to represent Nigeria at international competitions.
“We have them doing well in Italy, the U.S. and United Kingdom, and they are not representing any country for now,” Sani said.
The CNS Championship, the only national swimming championship organised by the federation, was not held in 2017.
This was as a result of the failure of the federation to source for the funds needed to complement the N10 million provided by the Nigerian Navy.