–Glory Alozie who remains the only athlete,man or woman to win an individual medal at both the Olympic Games and the IAAF flagship event, the World Championship in Athletics in the green and white colours of Nigeria tells TUNDE KOIKI on the COMPLETE SPORTS STUDIOS radio programme, SPORTS PLANET she still remains a Nigerian despite changing allegiance in 2001/2002 to Spain.She is also thrilled to be a part of the revolutionary grassroot athletics development programme, Top Sprinters Genesis packaged by Bambo Akanni of Making of Champions….
Sports planet: It’s nice meeting you again Glory.
Glory Alozie: It’s my pleasure.
SP: It’s been long you dorned the green and white colours of Nigeria following your switch of allegiance to Spain after the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney where you won a silver medal in the 100m hurdles. How was it been like competing for a country other than your country of birth and origin?
Glory: You see, I still remain Gloria; the only thing that changed is that I competed for Spain. I’d have felt something different if I couldn’t run. Though people see in a different way but for me, the most important thing is to run and to be happy, so I don’t see it as something big.
SP: You are the last woman to win an Olympic medal for Nigeria. And since then, no one has achieved that feat. Are you bothered at all?
Glory: Yes it bothers me a lot. And I think something is wrong somewhere which we have to figure out because we have a lot of potentials in this country; we have good athletes that can even do better than I did.
SP: You’ve been competing for Spain for so many years now. What has the difference been like competing for Spain and that of Nigeria?
Glory: In Spain, athletes are well motivated; they have a lot of facilities. The Spanish Athletics federation takes the welfare of Athletes very serious and there are always camps for all events which is lacking here.
SP: The issue of racism seems to be rampant all over the world now especially in football, have you ever experienced such since you’ve started competing for Spain?
Glory: No, I have never experienced any form of racial abuse. The Spaniards have always been kind to me even before I started running for them. I also live in Valencia which I considered to be the best city in Spain; the people there are very nice. So, I’ve not been racially abused there in any way.
SP: How did you get involved in Top Sprinters Genesis project by Bambo Akanni of Making of Champions?
Glory: I got to know for the first time in 2013 when Bambo Akanni (CEO of making of Champions) called and explained what the programme is all about to me. He later came to Madrid to get some of my clips and I’ve also been following the programme on Facebook. To me, this guy is really doing a great job because this is the kind of things we need to move sports forward in this country.
SP: Looking at Jamaica with a population of about 5 million people doing great when it comes to athletics, as a trained coach, do you see the possibility of what Top Sprinters Genesis is trying to achieve?
Glory: Of course yes. That is why I said this is the kind of programme we need to get to the highest level. We’ve got the potentials; all we need do is just to discover them and bring them to limelight.
SP: Top Sprinters Genesis is an interesting programme in the sense that they are not picking professional athletes, rather they look for kids in the corner of the street. Do you think this is the best?
Glory: For me, this is the best. It is better to catch them young and teach them what they need to know.
SP: You’ve been established in Spain for over a decade and you are comfortable over there, what prompted you to come back home to do this?
Glory: It is passion. I have passion for my country. We’ve missed out on the global scene as far as athletics is concerned. And when I heard things like this is happening here in my country, it gladdened my heart. So, I decided that whatever it takes for me to be part of it, I’ll surely give because I have passion for this sport and my country as a whole.
SP: Some years back, we had great sprinters like you, Falilat Ogunkoya, Mary Onyali among others who won medals at the Olympics and commonwealth Games. But now, whenever Nigeria is going for any athletics competition, the whole country will have to depend on the shoulder of Blessing Okagbare for any hope of medals, does this bother you?
Glory: It bothers me and I believe we can still get to that level again. We have the talents, we just have to bring them out and groom them and that is the mission of this programme.
SP: Gloria, you are from Abia State, has Abia State Athletics Federation contacted you to tap from your wealth of experience?
Glory: They’ve not but I believe that will happen one day
SP: Would you honour them if they call you?
Glory: Of course, it is what I have in my plan too.
SP: At the end of this programme, what will your satisfaction be like?
Gloria: For me, we’ve started it and I believe this is the best. I’ll be satisfied if a lot of people get to know at the end that programme like this exists here in Nigeria. And I believe that after this competition, something big will surely happen.
SP: What do you have to tell your fans here in Nigeria?
Glory: All I have to tell everyone is that they should be happy for me. The decision to run for Spain is the decision I had to take for my own good. But I’m back home to show my passion for my country and I’ll want them to show their support especially on this programme. With their support, more Gloria Alozies will come of out of this nation again.
Sports planet: Thank you so much for your time.
Glory: Thank you very much.
Interview by TUNDE KOIKI on the COMPLETE SPORTS STUDIOS radio programme, SPORTS PLANET. SPORTS PLANET is a news and magazine sports show produced by COMPLETE SPORTS STUDIOS. You can listen on Beat FM Lagos on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:45pm. You can also listen to past episodes, including this interview with Glory Alozie on our PODCAST, download the Stitcher Radio podcast app on your mobile phone and search for SPORTS PLANET to listen.