Nigeria’s greatest professional marathoner of all time, Abbas Muhammed on Tuesday said nothing has given him innate joy in recent times like the upcoming Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
The Nigerian Record holder in marathon said: “The Lagos State government has started what I believe will revive the culture of cross country running and marathon in Nigeria. These are lucrative areas of sports where our youth can be gainfully employed’’.
Muhammed posited that the general assumption that Nigeria is a sprint nation discouraged 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 (WR) 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 WR.’’
Muhammed said with Governor Ambode’s initiative, the culture of Marathon running will spread to other parts of Nigeria and lead to the revival of the industry.
“I’m 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 generally engage our youth with road races and marathon’’.
Muhammed said since most states and political leaders may not have the resources of Lagos to organize a full marathon with global elite athletes, they could organize five or ten kilometer road races, cross country races and the half marathon.
The marathon legend who is currently working in Maiduguri with the Nigerian Army hopes to be in Lagos for the February 6, 2016, Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.