Why I Left Track & Field for British Royal Navy, By Fasuba

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Duro Ikhazuagbe

Eight years after African record holder in the 100m, Olusoji Fasuba, 35, dumped Nigeria and track & field to seek a new career in Royal British Navy in 2012, the 60m World Indoor champion has explained why he quit the sport that brought him fame and honours.

Speaking from his base in the United Kingdom yesterday on FUBS WhatsApp platform, Fasuba whose 9.85secs African 100m record has endured 14 years without any sign of been erased soon, insisted that he took that option of a new career (in British Navy) because there was no future for him in athletics in Nigeria.

“I decided to take my bow at that early age to start a life (in British Navy) for myself and my family because I was tired of always asking for money that was not coming especially when I was injured on more than one occasion for the country (Nigeria),” observed Fasuba fondly called ‘Flash’ during his track career.

Apart from the African record in the 100m of 9.85 seconds, just 0.27 of a second slower than the fastest man in the world at the time, (Usain Bolt),

Fasuba also has to his long list of medals a bronze in the 4x100m relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics, gold in the 100m and 4x100m relay at the 2007 All-Africa Games in Algiers and gold at the 2008 World Indoor Championships 60m in Valencia, Spain.

But Fasuba stressed that after he clocked the new African sprint record at the Doha Grand Prix to erase Frankie Fredricks’ 9.86sec previous title he was injured and had to spend a lot of money to be able to run again.

“When I got injured after the African record, I spent a total of $15,000USD to get my self treated in Germany by the best doctor. That was the same doctor that treats Jamaican Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay of USA. To give you a bigger picture, I was treated in the low grade room because the others paid four times more,” revealed the Sapele-born former sprinter now a logistic expert for British Navy.

Despite his pleading to the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to assist him with the payment for his treatment in Germany, Fasuba was ignored and was expected to continue to race for Nigeria.

“I was told by the ministry to send the receipts for the treatment which I did. I am still waiting for the funds. Only God knows when I am going to get the refund….Maybe I will get it when am gone?” queried Africa’s fastest man to date.

He however admitted that to get to the elite class of track & field takes a lot of time and money.

“Being a professional athlete is expensive. That’s just my point and when athletes get grants, I can assure you that it doesn’t solve a quarter of our problems (training costs) as it is not enough,” Fasuba further hinted.

While fielding a question from a former top official of the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC), Fasuba admitted being honored and given financial support of $10,000 USD from his home Ekiti State government .

“I got a gift of $10,000 USD and not N10million from my state government for doing the State and Nigeria proud as Africa’s fastest man. At that time, in as much as it looks like a big gift which I cherished from my state, I knew as a professional that the amount ($10,000) will not take me till my old age or last me a year as training fees for a professional athlete is very expensive.

“And since I knew Nigeria had no plan for me and my Adidas sponsors (who paid me even more than that $10,000) was just till I got injured or I retired, the best option was what I did to have a secured future for me and my young family,” concludes Fasuba who remains a fanatical follower of Nigerian track & field.