Nigeria has picked up four more gold medals at the ongoing African Youth Athletics Championships taking place in Warri catapulting Team Nigeria to the top of the table.
Recall that on Thursday, at the kick-off of the Championship in Warri, Nigeria’s Oreva Edafe picked up a gold medal in the men’s long jump with a distance of 6.91 metres while on Friday, Suraj Sefa won gold in the women’s 100 metres with a time of 11.87 seconds.
“I am delighted winning the first gold for Nigeria. I can only wish that I will improve to world standards in a short period,” said Edafe.
Others who also won gold medals were Odiong Ofonime who won the women’s 400 metres event in 54.46 seconds and Oduduru Divine who picked up gold in the men’s 100 metres with a time of 10.62 seconds.
In the women’s 100 metres, Cecilia Francis won the silver medal with a time of 11.98 seconds, while in the women’s 400 metres, Nigeria clinched gold and silver with Junaid Abimbola coming second with a time of 54.81 seconds. Nigeria also picked up bronze in the men’s 100 metres with Yusuf Ismaila Adedeji coming third with a time of 10.87 seconds.
Also Rebecca Temidayo and Aderonke Ademosu won silver and bronze medals respectively in the 100m hurdles behind Lina Gaber of Egypt. In the women’s long jump, Mercy Abire and Ayomide Amusan win silver and bronze after leaping 5.63 metres and 5.52 metres respectively, finishing behind Egypt’s Esraa Owis.
In the women’s 800 metres, Esther Oluwatobi won bronze with a time of 2.06.04 behind the Ethiopian duo of Aliyi Mohammed and Olti Edau. Nathaniel Oghenewegba then picked up bronze in the men’s 400 metres with a time of 47.89 seconds.
Nigeria now has five gold, four silver and five bronze medals at the top of the table. Egypt is in second place with three gold and one silver medals.
The Africa Youth Athletics Championships (AYAC), tagged AYAC Warri 2013, opened in Warri on March 28, 2013 with thousands of fans who thronged the Warri Stadium to witness young athletes from the continent take to the tracks and field.
Nigeria, represented by 64 athletes with 26 confirmed African countries had for the first time in Nigeria courtesy Delta State Government, made use of the Estimated Distance Measurement (EDM) installed at the Warri Township Stadium. The timing and distance measurement device from Timetronics is to ensure accurate recording devoid of use of tape.
The Nigeria Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, at the maiden edition of the Africa Youth Athletics Championships, (AYAC) had thanked the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, Solomon Ogba, on the initiative to see Nigeria get the hosting right and harped on the need for the country’s representatives to exhibit a high level of discipline during the 4-day championship.
“The most critical factor to success in any endeavour not only sports is discipline. God forbid that you will be the generation of Nigerian athletes that will go to the Olympics and not bring a single medal. Talent is no longer enough, sports have gone scientific and the whole world has moved on.”
Sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi commended the state for the facility they put up and said that the competition would afford young talents in Africa to show their skills and develop from there.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State, had after inspecting the facilities at the Warri Township Stadium, venue of the Africa Youth Athletics Championships (AYAC), uttered three words as a preamble to what he had to say: “We are ready.’’
The Chairman, Local Organizing Committee (LOC) the 1st African Youth Athletics Championship (AYAC), Mr. Pinnick Amaju, had assured all Africans that Delta State, Nigeria is ready to host the best youth championship, ever billed for March 27 to 31, just as he charged Team Nigeria to raise the name of Nigeria through their performances.
Amaju Pinnick, who is head of sports in Delta, said that, “Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is driving this because he feels it will also help the state develop sports in a way. We are doing our best to live up to the expectation of our amiable governor and the expectations of CAA and those of all the countries here in Warri.
“This a development programme conceived by CAA to help African athletes soar and I’m sure it could be the springboard for many of them in their transition to greater heights. When we hosted a sports summit in Asaba October 30 last year, the high point of the whole thing centred on youth development. In a way, this is part of the implementation of the report of that summit. Our youths are in the team.
“Those not in the team will be influenced to engage in sports having watched interesting scenes here and very importantly are the equipment and facilities that we have acquired for the hosting this in Delta. As at Wednesday, 430 people had been accredited, many of them foreigners.
“There are technical personnel from Holland, Belgium who are from Timetronics and we have technical officials and the CAA family from other parts of the continent that are here. And so far, its been hitch-free. This is, therefore, boosting the image of the city and perhaps tourism. The state is better for it.”
In the same vein, former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs in Delta State, Chief Moses Odibo declared that the hosting of the African Youth Athletics Championship has broken the siege mentality in Warri and wants Governor Uduaghan to sustain it.
According to him, prior to the event, it was like Warri was under siege but the the competition has removed that fear and thus, commended the Governor for hosting the Championship and an assurance that Delta and indeed Warri is safe for investment.
“The nostalgia of just sitting at home in the evening has been broken and people now move in the night unmolested which has gone to confirm that Warri is safe. About 30 Countries came here for the Sports event and the Sports event has changed the siege mentality and I want to commend Governor Uduaghan for hosting the event. It is e very healthy development to Warri City and the people will be happy for it. The youths must seize this opportunity to change their orientation that Sports can take you to the highest level.”
Sports administrators and enthusiasts who witnessed the opening had this to say: “It’s only in the World Championships and Olympics that I have seen such an atmosphere and facilities,’’ Duro Ikhazuaegbe, Sports Editor of Thisday said, adding ‘’Delta has raised the bar tremendously.’’ Dare Esan, a known Track and Field reporter showered encomiums on the facilities and said ‘’this is good, this is beautiful for Africa.”
“We can’t believe this is a youth competition. The facilities, the atmosphere and the organisation. This is good for our sport,’’ Haman Said from Djibouti said. He is an official. Their coach Para Navello repeatedly said ‘’great, great, great,’’ blowing a kiss to fully express himself.
Head of Confederation Africa Athletics Marketing Department Aminata Gueye shook her head several times and said ‘’this is amazing, it’s crazy. We don’t get this in senior championships.’’
Moses Bantsi from Botswana who represented President of CAA Ahmed Kalkaba said: ‘’Africa is at home in Delta State. The championships will create an avenue for kids in Africa to compete with their mates at the world level. We thank the Governor of the state as well as the people of Warri for creating the atmosphere to stage a competition of this magnitude. We are at home here and it’s been a great feeling. Nigeria is our country, Delta State is our state and Warri is our city.’’
African Youth Athletics Championships:
The African Junior Athletics Championships is a biennial continental athletics event organized by the Confederation of African Athletics. First held in 1994 and only athletes aged 19 or under are allowed to compete.
Summary of Championships:
1 1994 Algiers Algeria 6–8 July
2 1995 Bouaké Ivory Coast 20–22 July
3 1997 Ibadan Nigeria 21–23 Aug
4 1999 Tunis Tunisia 22–25 July
5 2001 Réduit Mauritius 9–12 July
6 2003 Garoua Cameroon 31 Jul–3 Aug
7 2005 Tunis & Radès Tunisia 1–4 Sept
8 2007 Ouagadougou Burkina Faso 9–12 Aug
9 2009 Bambous Mauritius 30 July–2 Aug
10 2011 Gaborone Botswana 12–15 May
11 2013 Warri Nigeria 27-31 March
Congrats! Team Nigeria.