Athletes allege foul play as mass disqualification hit states
• ‘Team Lagos motivated for top spot’
Many of the states at the ongoing Ilorin 2021 National Youth Games were thrown into confusion yesterday when the screening committee disqualified several athletes for allegedly being above the age limit.
Tagged ‘the worst screening’ in the history of the Games by some states, the competition, which opening ceremony will hold at the University of Ilorin today, was greeted by protests by some of the states that accused the screening committee of incompetence.
One particular athlete, whose plight drew the attention of many journalists was Solomon Favour Chibuzor, a JSS 111 student of Anglican Girls Grammar School, Asaba.
Solomon, a golf player and last daughter of Solomon Joy, a former cyclist and now golf player, alleged that she was screened out because of her height.
She was later cleared to participate in the games when her mother submitted her birth certificate.
Another athlete from Plateau State wept uncontrollably before leaving the screening venue alleging that she was unjustly disqualified.
The Director of Grassroots Sports Development, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Dr. Bode Durotoye could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Meanwhile, athletes representing Lagos State say they have been motivated to do better than their previous outings at the National Youth Games.
Lagos State will feature 260 athletes in 33 sports at the games.
One of the athletes, Matthew Kuti, a national table tennis cadet champion, said he is motivated to win at least three gold medals in singles, doubles and mixed doubles events.
“I am here in Ilorin not only to take part in the Games, but to win three gold medals in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
“With hard work and God on my side, I am ready to win at least three gold medals in the table tennis categories,” he said.
Another table tennis player, Okajare Sunmisola, said, “I am very ambitious and my target here in Ilorin is to win three gold medals.
“I have been training so hard for this games and I believe I can win gold medals. I want to say it loud and clear, I am proud to be representing Lagos State.”
In track and field, Iyere Iwiriebor and Ire Oluwabunmi disclosed that their ambition is to break records at the Games in their various events.
According to Iwiriebor, “I want to break records in the 400m, 4×400 and mixed relay. Honestly, I have been training right from our camp in Lagos and since we got here in Ilorin.”
Oluwabunmi Israel, who is running in the 100m, 400m, 4x100m and mixed relay girls category, said she is in Ilorin with the intention to win gold medal for Lagos State.
“I came for one purpose to win not just one but two to three gold medals for Lagos. I have trained hard for this games and I believe with my faith in God, He will crown my effort with a gold medal,” she said.
Dominion Utukpe, a squash player, who won gold medal at the fifth edition of the Youth Games, said she has trained enough to retain her title.
“I won the singles gold medal at the last National Youth Games and I am here again to win it back to back.
“I started playing squash three years ago and my ambition is to become the national, Africa and world champion in the game of squash in the nearest future. Thanks to Lagos State government for giving me the platform to exhibit my talent,” he said.