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Nigeria makes Mountain error

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Nigeria makes Mountain error

Postby LiamRiley » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:10 pm

The 3rd African Mountain Running Championships was hosted by Nigeria's Obudu Mountain Race this week (28th). It was one that many would soon have forgotten - that is, if they had remembered it in the first place.

It seems that the athletes were far more concerned about chasing the annual race's big prizes (50,000 US$ for the winner) than they were the concept of a continental title. Although the previews talked of a number of teams being entered into the African Championship, the reality was quite different. Ethiopia swept the top three places in the men's race, but failed to name a team. As a result, fourth-placed Ugandan Geofrey Kusuro (the 2009 world mountain running champion) was given the African title. The only other countries to officially enter teams were Eritrea, Egypt and Nigeria. Kenya's team was bizarre: Ondara Macdonald (fifth in the race) was officially entered, but the nation seemingly forgot to include the names of the other four other Kenyans who ran.

The women's championship race was even more embarrassing for the Nigerian hosts, who had especially invited World Mountain Running Association president Bruno Gozzelino to the race as part of a bid to host a future World Championships. Only four women were entered into the African Championship race, all of them Nigerian. Genet Yalew of Ethiopia won the mountain race prize with a time of 48:45 minutes. Nearly ten minutes later came Nigeria's Janet Dung - taking seventh place but an African title to boot. Two more of the Nigerian women's team finished nearly 25 minutes after Yalew. The fourth and final entrant into the women's African Championship race (Deborah Pam) failed to finish the race.

For a minor sport like mountain running, this is quite disaster and calls into question the purpose of the African-level competition, which was inaugurated in 2009. Regardless of official entry or not, only three nationalities were present in the women's race and six in the men's race. For the organisers, it is a demonstration of gross incompetence. The Obudu Ranch also hosted the African race in both 2009 and 2010 - surely preparation should have been smooth given the continuity?

Ultimately, the WMRA's Gozzelino will have to consider whether it was a prudent decision to award continental status to what is essentially a souped-up advertising vehicle for a holiday ranch. The Obudu Mountain Ranch might be useful for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's attempts to woo foreign dignitaries, but an athletics event it ain't.
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