Gloria Alozie, speaks about Team Nigeria Ahead Rio Olympics

Alozie: Team Nigeria Shouldn’t Be Put Under Pressure At Rio Olympics

Glory Alozie was a household name in Nigerian athletics but perhaps would be best remembered for switching allegiance, electing to represent Spain. She won silver for Nigeria in the 100m hurdles at the Sydney Olympics. She also won silver at the World Championships in Sevilla. 

Born December 30, 1977, the Aba-born former sprinter who still holds the African record and Commonwealth record at 100 metres hurdles would not want to delve into her switch of nationality in July 2001 although she had since apologised to Nigerians. 

Alozie speaks exclusively to Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI on interesting issues ahead of Team Nigeria's medals hunt at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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What are the factors that could affect the performance of Nigeria's athletes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio that should be guarded against, especially by the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN)?
 

A lot of things can affect an athlete in a huge competition like the Olympics. Time difference and all those kind of stuff could be a factor. I learned that for me to come out well, sometimes my thoughts on running very fast is very important. It's a psychological thing. It's not how fast you run that determines your winning.

Again, I believe that the athletes too are afraid of failure because of the type of reaction from the general public whenever something goes wrong. 

So I also plead with the general public to encourage our athletes by not putting them under so much pressure.

This is the Olympics year. Could you share with us one remarkable moment you have at the Games?

I remember that in the semi-final race in Athens 2004 Olympics, I was 6th with the same time with the 4th and 5th placed athletes but the photo finish gave me 6th and Dolereen Enis London of Jamaica was 5th with the same time but she cried like a baby in such a way that it touched me and I had to console her, I told her to go home and work harder. 

 

So that is athletics for you. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but losing should make one to be stronger and not the other way round.

Nigerian athletes recently participated in the World Indoors in Portland, Oregun in USA without winning a single medal. These are athletes that could also represent Nigeria at the Olympics in August. What is your expectation from Team Nigeria at the Olympics? 

The fact that Nigeria didn't win a medal at the World Indoors doesn't mean that our athletes are not good. We  must know that winning at the world level is always a very difficult thing even though we've had people that won in the past. The Indoors is always more complicated. That's why you don't see all the world stars competing at the world Indoors.

What you have to know is that even though shorter distances are run in the Indoors, as long as it is run in the world levels, the sensations are almost the same because one has to run with the best in the world and being the Olympics, one will have to go more rounds and also a longer distance (100m) in my own case. I expect good outing from our athletes. 

Are you in support of Nigerians in diaspora representing the country at major tournaments? Have they actually improved athletics in Nigeria or should the AFN focus on home-grown talents?

Already we have a lot of talents because if we've had people that won in the past, I believe that the same talent is still amongst these up and coming ones. 

The only thing we need to do is to develop and encourage them. Nigeria is amongst the best countries in the world when it comes to talents, but they just have to be discovered and encouraged. There's nothing wrong with our athletes. 

They are not less in quality and talent than other athletes from other countries. Believe me, if they're not afraid of what will happen after their failure they will always compete well. I'm saying this because I've read many comments from people after each major championships so please let's still encourage our athletes.
 

When I say let's encourage them I mean both the general public and the press too, thanks.
 

Can you tell us your challenges during your time at the World Indoors especially ahead of the Olympics, which Nigerian athletes will learn from ahead of this year's Olympics in Rio?

In Valencia 2008 just before the Olympics in Beijing, I also didn't make it to the second round because it was very early in the morning. The weather was a factor.

I remember very well that most times I won medals at the Indoors I almost didn't make it to the finals, but sometimes also very lucky to make it. For example, I didn't make it to the semi finals in Budapest in 2004 because it was also too early in the morning when I did my heats.

I almost lost out too in Moscow 2006, even in Birmingham three years earlier (2003), I still had the same problem of running too early  where I won a silver medal. 

So you see, if I wasn't lucky enough in both Birmingham and Moscow, I wouldn't have won any medal. I guess one thing or the other must have made our athletes not to win this time.

What major incident shook you in recent times times concerning Nigerian athletes?

The death of Sunday Bada in 2011 was devastating. He was a big brother, friend and even father. His death is a big blow to Nigerian athletics because he had so much vision and great plans for Nigerian athletes as the AFN president. 

 

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