Mike Edwards’ dream of becoming the first man to represent Nigeria in the high jump at the Commonwealth Games in over half a decade may not happen after the IAAF barred him from participating at the Gold Coast 2018 Games.
But the 27-year-old says he will do all within his powers to get the athletics world body to have a change of heart.
How does he hope to do this? By holding a one-man protest every day until the world body decides to give him the go-ahead to represent Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games.
Edwards, who has been in Queensland, Australia training ahead of the start of the Games, on Wednesday got a phone call from the IAAF notifying him of his ineligibility for the Games.
According to the athletics body, Edwards is ineligible to don the green and white of Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games because nine years ago, he represented Great Britain at the 2009 European Junior Championship. This was irrespective of the fact that the 27-year-old had in the years following his participation at the championship in Serbia not worn the British colours at any major championship.
He even got the nod of the British athletics governing body to switch allegiance to Nigeria – his mother’s country – but with just over a week to the start of the high jump event, his dream of becoming the first male jumper to fly the Nigerian flag at the Games in over 50 years was truncated by the IAAF.
Edwards, who emerged tops at last month’s British championship in Birmingham, says he won’t give up without a fight.
“No shame. I’ll stand here every day until IAAF makes a change,” wrote Edwards on Friday on his Instagram page where he posted a picture of himself at the Games Village with a placard on which were inscribed the words ‘Homeless…dear IAAF, please let me compete 4 Nigeria’.
“It’s wrong what they’re doing. I’ve come too far. I’ve sacrificed way too much to fold at the 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 [Great Britain] almost a decade ago, at a junior level championship.
“Is this what athletics has come to IAAF? People behind the desk dictating on innocent athletes wanting to give back to their respective countries, but you can allow ex-drug cheats to represent at every major championship including the Olympic Games – to sell more tickets (yea that part) don’t get me started, it’s just pathetic.
“I may not be the most decorated athlete in the world but I’m resilient.”
The 27-year-old then went on to remind the IAAF that it had been nine years since he competed at a major championship, before equally reminding the world body of one of his major attributes: his resilience.
“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.”
The legendary Emmanuel Ifeajuna, winner of the high jump event at the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, and Nafiu Osagie, were the last Nigerian jumpers to have an impact at the Commonwealth Games. National record holder Anthony Idiata dominated the high jump scene in the 90s and could have possibly medalled at the Games but he never had the opportunity of taking part in the championship due to a ban on Nigeria, which lasted from 1995 until 2002.