Nigerian track legend Gloria Alozie has opened up about the reasons she dumped her birth country to compete for Spain explaining that her decision was borne out of pragmatism rather than a frustration with Nigeria’s notoriously woeful athletics ecosystem.
Alozie won silver for Nigeria at the Sydney Olympics in the 100m hurdles before eventually switching nationality to Spain for whom she won a gold medal at the 2002 European championship.
Alozie’s switch to representing Spain after obtaining Spanish citizenship in 2001 was viewed by many Nigerians as yet more evidence of the decay in Nigeria’s athletics where a notorious lack of basic welfare routinely forces athletes to switch nationalities in order to truly maximize their careers.
It is a trend that has continued even nearly two decades after Alozie’s switch to Spain as many Nigerian-born athletes continue to turn their backs on Nigeria for much better welfare and training packages on offer elsewhere.
While that may have been the case with her back in 2001, Alozie points out other pragmatic considerations also contributed to her deciding to fly Spain’s flag at international competitions.
“Before changing my nationality, I was already living in Spain and I had my club and coach there and there were certain things I wasn’t really enjoying as a Nigerian,” she told busybuddiesng.com.
“For instance at my club there were a number of foreign athletes that could run for the club and for me to really fit in since my job and career was there, I really needed to get that nationality because it really helped me a lot in my career.
“For example, in some competitions, maybe we had many foreign athletes and being Spanish, I had all the opportunity to compete anywhere whereas you could be asked as a foreigner not to compete in the finals where you ordinarily would have competed or maybe they don’t give you medals when you are the best.
“There were many things that made me to change because as a Nigerian there was something really missing so I had to obtain the nationality for my career to really flow very well.”
After retiring from the sport, Alozie returned to Nigeria to take up a position as hurdles coach at Making of Champions (MoC) Track Club, and she believes the structure the Track Club – which identifies and nurtures talented young athletes from all over the country – offers its athletes is comparable to what she had in Spain and would help more athletes compete for rather than dump Nigeria for other climes like she once did.