Good Movie Must Have A Good Story Line – Falilat Ogunkoya

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Chief Falilat Ogunkoya (MON) was the first athlete to win two medals for Nigeria in the same Olympics, a silver and a bronze, at the 1996 Olympics Games in Atlanta. During her days as a professional athlete representing Nigeria in different international championships, Ogunkoya brought home several gold, silver and bronze medals, which was a rare feat among her contemporaries. Many of her records as an athlete are unsurpassed till date. Morakinyo Olugbiji recently cornered the Ogun State chief who also owns Falilat Ogunkoya Sport Foundation at an event, where she spoke about what has been happening to her. Excerpts:

I recently heard about your All Secondary Schools Sport Competition in Oyo State…

(cut in) Yes, I just finished the all secondary schools competition in Oyo State which we held around January and February. So my Falilat Ogunkoya Sport Foundation in partnership with the executive governor of Oyo State , held the event. I'm a grassroots person and I have my own foundation that I'm trying to build just to make sure that we organise more competitions for our athletes in Nigeria .

What are the major problems affecting the athletes in Nigeria?

I think the biggest challenge is appreciating them. You must appreciate them. It's very sad when you don't appreciate them. When you are not being appreciated as an athlete you can lose your drive. Even when they go to represent the country in competitions, you should appreciate and encourage them. Whatever position they might be, you still have to pat them at the back and you must listen to them because if you don't, you wouldn't' know their problems. It's not easy to be an athlete and to compete for Nigeria as a whole. Most of the time, you have to do most of the jobs by yourself. So let's appreciate our athletes. They have brought Nigeria glory in the past and they still can if well encourage.

Could that be the reason for Nigeria 's poor performance in the Olympics nowadays compared to when you were representing the country?

During my own days, I was very determined; I wanted to do my best and be the first. Then I even had a scholarship in the U.S. I was going to school and training at the same time and when I finished, I would go back to training. But for most athletes of nowadays, they find it difficult to combine education with sports. But we must put the right peg in the hole. And then when the ones that have retired are not being appreciated, the motivation will not be there for the new ones. Too much attention is being centred on football to the detriment of athletics and that's very sad. That's why the country's athletics is where it is today. We need more and more Gold.

I have noticed that you hardly attend social functions, but recently I have spotted you at various entertainment events, why the sudden change in your social status?

When you are invited to a function,it is important to honour it because the people will appreciate you. And then you must also understand that I have been juggling my time between Nigeria and the U.S.A. If they had invited me when I was away, there was no way I could have made it. However, I received the invitation for this one about a month in advance.

Some people are speculating that you are eyeing a political post or embarking on a big project and that is why you come out very often , how true is that?

But I was a political appointee in Ogun State ; Otunba Gbenga Daniel gave me my first political appointment and I think i have done my own little part as a Nigerian. When you have done your part you can go and rest. Of course, you always wish for good things in life and you keep your fingers crossed and being prayerful. You leave the rest for God to do.

What makes a good athlete?

It's determination and hard work. Nigeria is the hardest country to compete for, but by the grace of God, if you run with your mind, the rest of your body will follow! You must put your mind first.

I know you have retired from professional athletics but do you sometimes run as a past time?

One must do a little exercise regularly. It's like a professor; he must still read. A little exercise, yes I run regularly as part of my aerobic activities. So I can stay fit , but for aerobics purpose and not as much as before.

What's your fondest memory of your time as a professional athlete?

It's during the Olympics; it was a great experience to be the first athlete to win an individual medal for Nigeria at the Olympics. All my hard work paid off. What most athletes dream of is to win an Olympic medal but I came home with two. So I thank God.

How do you relax?

Most times I'm always on the phone. I listen to the news and then watch my people , the Nollywood people.

Which is your favourite movie?

I watch all kinds of movies. If it's good, I keep watching; if it's below standard I just push my eject button.

What's your general opinion about the Nigeria movie industry?

They are trying their possible best to make a living and what else can they do in this environment. We must survive. Nigeria will be better.

What do you look out for in a movie?

I like the ones with good storyline. But you just watch some and you find out that the script is bad; it has no head or tail.

What advice do you have for Nigerians, especially the youth?

My advice to them is that they should believe in themselves and their ability. They should know that anything they want to do in life, they can if they are determined and put their minds to it. They should remain positive.