The indefinite suspension of transfer allegiance by the International Association of Athletics Federations has stopped British-born Nigerian high jumper Mike Edwards from representing the country at the .
The IAAF in February 2017 froze all new transfer of allegiance until the IAAF committee on athletes transfer could come up with a new rule on the issue. The IAAF said the freeze was largely for the purpose of protecting vulnerable African athletes from being poached by other nations.
However, 27-year-old Edwards, who is a part of the 37-man athletics team already in the Gold Coast, took to the social media on Friday to protest the decision of the world athletics body in preventing him from representing Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games.
He said after British Athletics had approved of his transfer of allegiance to Nigeria, the IAAF refused to approve his transfer, saying he had represented Britain once at the junior level.
“Nine years ago I represented Great Britain at the 2009 European Junior Championships. A very proud achievement and milestone in my sporting career. Yesterday (Thursday), I received a call from the IAAF, who informed me that in spite of British Athletics accepting my request to transfer allegiance to Nigeria, the Jr. Championships I competed at when I was 19 years old makes me ineligible to represent Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games,” he wrote on Facebook.
“It’s been 50 years since a male Nigerian high jumper has competed at the Commonwealth Games and I’m right here in Gold Coast, Australia 10 days away from the competition and IAAF wants to stop me.”
With a picture of himself holding a placard and standing by the Games’ mascot, Edwards, who has been accredited to compete at the Games by the Commonwealth Games Federation, said he would stand there every day until the IAAF reconsiders its stance before the event commences.
He wrote, “No shame. I’ll stand here every day until IAAF makes a change. It’s wrong what they’re doing. I’ve come too far. I’ve sacrificed way too much to fold at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“As a law abiding dual citizen of Great Britain and Nigeria, I should have every right to represent Team Nigeria regardless if I chose to represent my birth country GB almost a decade ago, at a junior level championship.
“I may not be the most decorated athlete in the world but I’m resilient. Remember, it’s been nine years since my last major championship. I don’t quit easy. This sign is a representation of the levels I’m willing to take it too. I just want to compete. Call me back IAAF.”
Incidentally, Nigeria’s first ever Commonwealth Games medal, a silver, was gotten from the men’s high jump at the 1950 edition of the Games. Also, the country’s first ever gold medal at the Commonwealth Games was won by Emmanuel Ifeajuna in the men’s high jump in 1954.
Edwards, who won the British Indoor Championships in February this year, would have been Nigeria’s first male high jumper at the Games in about 50 years.