That’s right, one country on one continent, has three different athletes representing three different continents. How to explain this? You can blame a badly-run sports administration and a scarcity of resources needed to keep finely-tuned athletes at the top level. And, of course, personal ambition is also a factor.
Take the case of the European record holder Francis Obikwelu, 36, who left his homeland as a teenager and settled in Portugal. He continued to represent Nigeria until 2001.
The circumstances that led him to switch nationality were unfortunate. After suffering a career threatening injury at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Athletics Federation of Nigerian abandoned the star in his hour of need. Not only had he to foot the medical bills himself but also spent a few months in hospital recuperating after surgery complications led to a blood clot. A year later he became a naturalized Portuguese citizen and his silver medal performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics was his career best as he set a European record of 9.86sec. The record is still standing.
Asia’s fastest man is Femi Ogunode, 24. He has said the move to become a Qatari national in 2010 was a calculated risk that paid off. He alleges nepotism and corruption in Nigerian athletics. Last year, he set a career best of 9.93sec at the Asian Games. This April he ran a few seconds faster to set the Asian record of 9.91sec at the Asian Athletics Championships.