Nigeria’s greatest professional marathoner of all time, Abbass Muhammed on Tuesday said nothing has given him innate joy in recent times like the upcoming Lagos City Marathon.
The Nigeria record holder in marathon and one of the best in the world when he was competing said.
“Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has started what I believe will revive the culture of cross country running and marathon
in Nigeria, these are lucrative area of sports where our youth can be gainfully employed”.
Muhammed posited that the general assumption that Nigeria is a sprint nation discourage investment in road races and marathons.
“The general assumption that Nigeria is a sprint is not backed by fact. The truth is marathon and road races are not encouraged due to ignorance, as at the time I was running, the world record in marathon was 2.06.50 held by Ethiopian Belayneh Dinsamo, my time then was 2:16 set in Lagos September 11, 1990. If I had a sponsor then and competed regularly around the world, I would have returned a better time and compete for the world record’’
Muhammed said with Governor Ambode initiative, the culture of marathon running will spread to other parts of Nigeria and lead to the revival of the industry.
“I believe that Lagos being the Center of Excellence, other states emulate them and am appealing to other state governors and political leaders in Nigeria to take a cue from Governor Ambode and arrest unemployment and youth restiveness, solve problems of crime and criminality, and general engage our youth with road races and marathon”.
Muhammed said since most states and political leaders may not have the resources of Lagos and organize a full marathon with global elite athletes, they could organize five or ten kilometer road races, cross country and half marathon.
The marathon legend who is currently working in Maiduguri with the Nigerian Army hope to be in Lagos for the February 6, 2016, Access Bank Lagos City Marathon and give Governor Ambode a warm handshake, “the governor has done very well, he deserves a very warm handshake and praises, myself and the likes of Ado Maude another great runner who could not fulfill his potentials because we didn’t get the right support are proud of him. If Ambode was a leader during our era we would have ruled the world’’ conclude Muhammed.