Nigeria’s most accomplished sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, long jumper, Ese Brume and sprint hurdler, Tobiloba Amusan are not eligible to share in the $500,000 Welfare Fund set up by World Athletics, according to the world governing body for the sport.
The Welfare Fund was announced two weeks ago by World Athletics and International Athletics Foundation to support professional athletes who have lost a substantial part of their income due to the suspension of international competitions this year due to the covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement on Friday, World Athletics announced that only athletes who have made the qualification standard for the 2020 Olympics (rescheduled for 2021) are eligible for consideration.
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This means only seven Nigerian track and field athletes scaled the first hurdle.
World Athletics also announced that athletes ranked in the top six in their events in its rankingwill not be eligible to share in the fund.
This effectively knocks out the trio of Okagbare (ranked sixth in the 200m), Brume (ranked third in the long jump) and Amusan (ranked fourth in the 100m hurdles).
This leaves the quartet of reigning African Games 100mchampion, Raymond Ekevwo, double NCAA sprint champion, Divine Oduduru, Ushoritse Itsekiri and shot putter, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi as likely beneficiaries albeit Ekevwo’s status as a student athlete on scholarship in the USA may make him ineligible.
The trio of Oduduru, Itshekiri and Chukwuebuka also met another criteria for eligibility set by World Athletics which makes athletes who have earned amount beginning from $6,000 in the 2019 Diamond League ineligible.
Oduduru competed just twice in the money-spinning event, placing eighth in the 100m in Monaco and sixth in the 200m in Paris earning in the process $3000 as prize money.
Chukwuebuka competed just once in the competition in 2019, finishing eighth in the shot put at the Golden Gala in Rome and earned just $1000 as prize money.
Itshekiri did not run in any Diamond League meeting last year and thus earned no money therefrom. The trio will however have to prove they did not receive any grant from government and /or benefit from the Olympics solidarity fund for the 2020 Olympics.
Athletes on the adopt-an-athlete programme initiated by the Minister of Sports and Youth Development may also be ineligible unless they can prove they have not been paid.
The trio will however have to apply to be considered and World Athletics have put a $4000 ceiling on what an athlete can benefit from the fund.