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Ebele Agbapuonwu becomes Salwa Naser – Nigerian athletes dump Nigeria in droves

Salwa Naser, a 400m silver medalist at the World Athletics championship in London, says she is happy to have chosen Bahrain ahead of Nigeria.

The 19-year-old set a new Bahraini record to win both her heat in 50.57 seconds and the semi-final in 50.08 seconds.

After the race, Naser was asked if she had any message for the new board of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, and she said, “I don’t really have anything to say to them.

“The past three years have been a great transition for me and I’m glad. I have nothing to say to the AFN.”

Born in Nigeria, Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu, moved, converted to Islam, and naturalised as a Bahraini in 2014. She took the name Salwa Eid Naser. Her first success was at the 2014 Arab Junior Athletics Championships, where she was the gold medallist in both the 200 metres and 400 metres. Following this, she set a new best of 54.50 seconds at the Asian Trials for the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics. She recorded 53.95 seconds in the first round before taking the silver medal behind Australia’s Jessica Thornton with a much improved time of 52.74 seconds.

She is not the only one.

A good number of Nigerian born athletes and athletes of Nigerian descent represented other nations at the Rio Olympics, and while Nigeria barely got any medal at the games, some of them went on to win medals for their adopted countries.

The story of Kemi Adekoya is particularly striking, she switched allegiance to Bahrain in 2014 after she complained that the AFN were not funding her training and she was not paid the jackpot she won in the Nigerian golden league. She went on to say she did not regret switching allegiance as she would have been forced to retire early due to frustration. In her first race in the IAAF Diamond league meet, she placed first in the 400m hurdles race and displayed a banner that read “I love Bahrain.”

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