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AFN discovers new stars at National Youth Games

By Gowon Akpodonor and Samuel Ifetoye
18 October 2021   |   4:03 am
The search for new track queens by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) may have yielded results at the sixth National Youth Games in Ilorin.

Stella Oyebode of Kwara State

• As Delta extends lead
• Lagos dominates in ‘fives,’ para-table tennis

The search for new track queens by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) may have yielded results at the sixth National Youth Games in Ilorin.
 
Athletics events, which started yesterday inside the Unilorin Sports Complex, gave AFN officials cause to celebrate late into the night. Reason: A ‘new Okagbare’ has arrived.
 
Since the Tokyo Olympics Games in Japan, many Nigerian track and field followers have been disturbed by the sad situation U.S.-based Nigerian sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, has found herself over alleged illegal drugs use.
   
Okagbare was suspended on the eve of her semifinal race at the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for a human growth hormone following an out-of-competition test on July 19.  Many Nigerians, including some officials of the AFN, are afraid Okagbare might not be able to return to track and field at the end of her drugs saga.
 


At the National Youth Games in Ilorin, yesterday, two young athletes distinguished themselves in the girls 100m event. The duo of Taiye Ayenuro of Team Delta and Stella Oyebode of Kwara gave the spectators a lot to cheer about.
 
Their stride, composure, speed and finishing portrayed the picture of Okagbare in her youthful days.
 
Some of the coaches, who spoke with The Guardian at the end of 100m race, were delighted by the potential in the girls.

“This is one of the dividends of the Youth Games.  In the next two years, these two athletes will mature to occupy vacant positions. The AFN is already planning how to position them and others athletes discovered here for the future.”
Meanwhile, Team Delta extended its leadership on the medals table to 38 gold yesterday.
 

Taiye Ayenuro of Team Delta

The state grabbed the first gold medal in girls’ long jump event, where Djoma Fejiro Praise scaled 5.61m to beat her challengers from the FCT and Ondo State, who settled for silver and bronze medals respectively.

Team Delta also defeated Team Lagos in volleyball 25-21, 21-25, 25-9, 25-18 to win Gold medal yesterday. It also won gold in girls’ hockey and silver in the boys’ category. The state had ended Day three with 32 gold medals on Saturday with Edo State in second position with just eight gold. Plateau State has won two medals in the golf event.
 
Despite the psychological trauma they went through having been wrongfully screened out as being the over age limit before they won their appeal, the duo of Nantap Danat and Deborah Dung grabbed a silver medal in the stapleford girls’ team event with a combined score of 22 points.
 
Ponyayi Danjuma and Otopka Emmanuel also got a silver medal in the stapleford boys’ team event with 52 points.

Also, Team Lagos continued its medals haul yesterday with two more gold medals in Fives and Para Table Tennis.

Tijani Rasaq gave Lagos the gold medal in the boys’ singles Para Table Tennis, while Isaac Blessing won another gold medal in Fives singles event at the expense of Delta State. Lagos also secured a bronze medal in the Fives doubles event.

The pair of Aishat Rabiu and Mathew Kuti won a silver medal in the table tennis mixed doubles, while Balogun Yetunde got a bronze medal in the Para Table Tennis female singles event.

In boxing, Team Lagos’ Opaleye Kehinde won his bout in the 46kg category via a knock out in the second round against Rivers State’s Lucky Edum.