‘Cash strapped’ Team Nigeria departs for Addis Ababa
AFTER ‘struggling’ for days to raise money, a contingent of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), made up of 29 athletes and an unspecified number of officials, left LagosTuesday for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the 2015 African Junior Athletics Championship.
The championship will run from March 3 to 7, but Team Nigeria, which won the title two years ago in Mauritius, struggled to raise money for the trip.
The Guardian learnt Tuesday that the Sports Ministry could only raise N5 million from the N20 million it approved for the AFN to embark on the trip.
An official who spoke to The Guardian at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, yesterday hinted that AFN President, Solomon Ogba and one unnamed board member loaned money to the federation for the contingent’s flight tickets. Ogba departed for Addis Ababa on Monday to attend a delegate conference of the Confederation of African Athletics, which ends today. Competition will begin later today.
Five junior athletes were dropped last week after a one-day trial conducted by AFN at Shagamu Stadium. Those dropped were Mercy Ntia-Obiong, Peace Nwaelihia, Ruth Damatie, Tobechukwu Nwokolcha and Olotu Folashade.
However, one male athlete, Nathaniel Samson, a quartermiler, could not make the trip to Addis Ababa yesterday, as he was said to have developed illness few hours after securing his place for the trip.
The AFN was banking on Samson for two gold medals in Addis Ababa, but his inability to make the trip might affect the plan.
He had been listed for 400m and the 4x400m relay event.
In his absence, the AFN is hoping that US-based Akerele Omeiza will be in good shape to rescue the 400m gold and assist the relay team.
Omeiza and other junior athletes, like sprinter Ada Benjamin and jumper Fabian Edoki Ime are currently on scholarship in some American universities, following their superlative performance in Mauritius two years ago.
Eight officials, including Esabunor Muavuaye, Solomon Aliyu, Kayode Yaya, Ann Chet, Falilat Ogunkoya- Omotayo, Seigha Porboni and Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama were earlier penciled down for the trip, but it was not clear yesterday if all made the trip to Addis Ababa.
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