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Anxiety as junior athletes face open trials today ahead World Championship

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[FILES] Blessing Okagbare. Photo: AFP

Nigerians are behind you, Okowa tells Okagbare, others

After seven days of training at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, Team Nigeria’s contingent to the 2021 World Junior Athletics Championships will emerge today.

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The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) opened the camp in Asaba on July 23 for athletes selected from different parts of the country to prepare for the World Junior Championships, slated for Moi International Sports Centre in Nairobi, Kenya between August 17 and 23.

According to former Nigerian jumper, hurdler and sprinter, Seigha Porbeni, who is overseeing activities in Asaba camp, a total of 17 events will be decided in today’s open trials for the athletes.

The events include 100m (male and women), long jump (male and women), 400m (male and women), 400m hurdles (male and women), discus (women), Shot Put (women), 200m (male and women), 100m hurdles (women) 110m hurdles (male) and high jump (male).

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The trials will commence at 10.00 a.m. this morning and end at 12:45 p.m.

Among the athletes in Asaba camp is one of Nigeria’s finest junior sprinters, Okeoghene Brume (younger brother of long jumper, Ese Brume). Others include Favour Oghenetejire Ashe, Adekalu Nicholas Fakorede, Mabilo Niholas Oghenevo, Agelivie Efe-Sam and Emmanuel Oche. The women sprinters include Praise Ofoku, Anita Taviore, Olayinka Olaijide and Blessing Aguda.

Meanwhile, AFN President, Tonobok Okowa has arrived in Tokyo ahead of athletics events, which begins tomorrow.

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Okowa, who had been putting finishing touches to Nigeria U20 team’s preparation for the World Junior Championships holding in Kenya in August, left Nigeria yesterday with a promise to deliver to the athletes the feelings of millions of Nigerians back home.

He told The Guardian on phone shortly before his departure for Tokyo that he has been following the performance of Nigerian athletes at the Games, saying: “The performance of some of our athletes at the Tokyo Olympics have been giving me sleepless nights. I am sure a lot of Nigerians feel the same. I will let our athletes know how our people back home feel. They have to know that many Nigerians stay awake to watch their events. I am still optimistic that Team Nigeria will get some good results at the Games. The sports ministry and the various sports federations have done very well, and it will be nice for the athletes to make Nigerians happy,” Okowa stated.

Athletics events will begin tomorrow (Friday), and Team Nigeria’s hope for medals is on Blessing Okagbare and 12 others, including Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume, Divine Oduduru, Grace Nwokocha, Chukwuebuka Enewechi, Enoch Adegoke, Usheoritse Itshekiri, Patience Okon-George, Imaobong Uko, Emmanuel Ojeli, Favour Ofili and Ruth Usoro.

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Okagbare will lead Grace Nwokocha in the women’s 100m heats tomorrow.


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