The General Manager of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Yussuf Alli, has urged Nigerian elite runners participating in the 2021 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to emulate Japanese Kengo Suzuki who on Sunday, February 28, 2021, crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 04 minutes and 56 seconds to win the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, setting a new national record.
Alli also promised to personally reward any Nigerian runner that sets a new record at the 2021 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
Suzuki broke the previous record of 2:05:29 set by Suguru Osako at the 2020 Tokyo Marathon.
Alli, who broke the Commonwealth, Africa, and Nigeria record in the long jump as an athlete, said it is disheartening that Nigerian elite runners are not taking advantage of the quality of international elite runners participating at the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon to improve their performances and break records,
“About 14 runners ran inside 2hours 10 minutes at the 2020 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, breaking our course record of 2hours and 15 minutes but sadly none of them is a Nigerian.”
Alli wonders why a country that produced Abass Muhammed and Yohanna Waziri who is 2hours 15 minutes runners over three decades ago is struggling to produce runners that could equal their feats today with advancement in training technique and the money on the table.
“Access Bank Lagos City Marathon has shown that there is money to be made as a professional runner. All our athletes need is to follow the money. When President Ibrahim Babangida announced the incentives for gold medalists at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, I left my base in Missouri, United States to train in Bauchi
“I even hired a coach. My reward was not just a gold medal and Commonwealth record but thousands of dollars from Babangida, a house and a street was named after me. I am appealing to our runners to take advantage of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon and the lucrative global marathon and road races circuit to invest in their talents and make money while they are still young because sports have no second-hand value. Once you are old, you can’t bring back the hand of the clock”.
Alli dismissed the myth that it is only East Africans that excel in marathons and road races,
“Europeans, Americans, Asians, and other nationals have done extremely well in marathons and road races. The time Suzuki ran on Sunday, setting a new record is good enough to win any of the world’s best marathons. Though the high altitude gives East Africans some advantage, we also have high altitude here and in marathons, once you get to kilometer 32, the human body reacts the same way, from that point, it’s who wants it most that will get it”.
Alli promised to personally reward financially any Nigerian runner that can break Nigeria’s men or women record at the 2021 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.