Wednesday, 7th June 2023

22 Nigerian junior athletes get U.S. scholarships, Okowa hosts team

By Gowon Akpodonor
17 May 2023   |   3:09 am
A new crop of Nigerian athletes have started their journey to stardom with academic and sports scholarships to various American universities.

Nigerian athletes

A new crop of Nigerian athletes have started their journey to stardom with academic and sports schoralships to various American universities.

The athletes, 22 in number, represented the country at the recently concluded African U-18 and U-20 Athletics Championships in Ndola, Zambia.

Delta State Governor, Dr. ifeanyi Okowa, on Monday night, treated the athletes to a dinner to celebrate their exploits at the championship.

Team Nigeria, against all odds, won 17 gold, nine silver and seven bronze medals to finish second to South Africa, who topped the medals table based on their numerical strength.

An official, who was in Ndola, told The Guardian, yesterday, that about 22 of the athletes have received scholarship from different universities in the United States.

“Some of them have secured their visas already, and will jet out to the United States soon,” he stated

Earlier at the ceremony, Secretary to the Delta State Government, Patrick Ukah, who represented Governor Okowa, said it was thrilling to see Nigerian juniors performing excellently well at the Championship in Ndola Zambia.

He said Okowa was excited, particularly with the outing of Delta-born athletes in the team. He urged them to build on their success.

“We are overjoyed by your performance in Ndola. You have once again proved that Delta is indeed home of sports in Nigeria.

“We are excited and proud of what you have done, this is just the beginning, we hope to see more achievements in track and field from you,” said Ukah who later announced various awards to the athletes.

Also, speaking at the event, Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, expressed delight with the medal haul.

He added that the athletes painted a picture of what to come in Nigerian track and field.

“I met them in Lagos when the team arrived from Zambia and we enjoyed ourselves. Thanks to the team for what they have done.

“These ones represent the future of our athletics. In three or four years, the likes of Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume would have reached their peak. With the crop that came from Ndola, we have hope.

“We have to put the group together and do the right things. We can do well at the African Games and Olympics.”

He thanked Delta State for its contribution to sports in Nigeria.

“We have seen the contributions of states in the country. In our adopt an athlete programme, Delta supported 16 athletes and other states adopted just one or two athletes.”

Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Tonobok Okowa, commended Governor Okowa for supporting the team during their preparations and also hosting them on their return. He added that the AFN would strive to ensure the athletes attained greater heights.