US-based former Nigerian hurdler, Victor Okorie, is offering scholarships to Nigerian track and field athletes through his pet project, the South East Sports Foundation.
Okorie was one of the country’s athletes who rose through the school sports system and knows what pains he went through to get to where he is today.
Before offering this lifeline to young Nigerian athletes, Okorie who won a silver medal at the 2003 African Games hosted by Nigeria in Abuja, is also bankrolling the training of some Nigerian coaches at the National Institute for Sports (NIS) in Lagos.
A board member of the South East Sports Foundation, former 400m star, John Chidiebere Kpechi, told reporters that the aim of the foundation is to rescue the athletic career of many Nigerians athletes who are currently going through hardship.
“The Foundation has observed that so many Nigerian athletes can no longer cope with the present situation, and have decided to go for menial jobs.
“For instance, a sprinter, Olisakwe Chukwudi from Anambra State, out of frustration, decided to quit sports to pick up a carwash job in Enugu.
“This, he did, to put food on his table and also further his education. Our Foundation located him, and took him back to track and field, placed him on a monthly allowances.
“That our gesture is now paying off as he qualified to represent Nigeria in 2015 alongside Divine Oduduru and won medals for the country. He has a Personal Best of 10.41 in 100m and 21.03 in 200m.
“Another athlete, Jude Nnajiofor from Anambra State, is also on the verge of leaving athletics due to hardship. We were able to secure his school at Nsukka, bought him training kits, and also paid his JAMB fee to enable him to proceed with his studies. There are several others like that that we have helped reposition their track and field careers.
According to Kpechi, the Foundation set various targets before picking the athletes for the scholarship programmes in the United States.
“In the 100m men, we picked athletes who are running 10.03seconds or 10.04 seconds. For the female, the target was 11.08 seconds and downwards. Men’s 400m, the target was 47.00 seconds downwards, while the female must run 54 seconds. In the throws, the men must throw 67 meters in javelin,” he concluded.