AFN rules out wildcard for athletes, inspects facilities in Benin
Second batch arrives from Mauritius today
A delegation of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) is expected in Benin City, Edo State, this morning to begin inspection of facilities ahead the national trials to select athletes for the World Athletics Championships and Commonwealth Games.
AFN Secretary General, Prince Adisa Beyioku, had on Monday, named former two-time president of the AFN, Solomon Ogba, as chairman of the national trials, which will run from June 21 to June 23 at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.
On his arrival from Mauritius yesterday, where Team Nigeria finished third in the 22nd African Senior Athletics Championships, AFN President, Tonobok Okowa, told The Guardian that the inspection team would hit Benin City this morning.
“We just arrived in Lagos and our plan was to hit Benin City today (yesterday), but we missed the flight. The team headed by Chief Ogba will be in Benin City tomorrow morning (today) to inspect the facilities.
“We must ensure the national trials is done smoothly. Some of our athletes are already on their way to Nigeria because the AFN is very strict in ensuring all athletes participate in the trials. No room for excuses,” Okowa stated.
According to him, the national trials in Benin City is mainly to pick the best athletes that will fly Nigeria’s flag at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, U.S. and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“For instance, we have about four and five athletes, who have qualified in the 100 metres. We want all of them to gather in Benin City so that we can select the best among them. We will also use the national trials to strengthen our relay teams.
“Our trip to Mauritius for the African Championship really helped us. We now know the area to work on before the World Championships in Oregon and the Commonwealth Games,” he stated.
On Team Nigeria’s third position finish in Mauritius, Okowa said: “Our target was 10 gold medals, which could have taken Nigeria to the top of the medals table in Mauritius. But some of our key athletes couldn’t make it. The likes of Ese Brume (long jump), Favour Ofili (100m and 200m), Ashe Favour (100m) and Alaba Akintola (100m) could have given us gold medals in Mauritius. I am happy with the performance of the athletes we took to Mauritius.
“Now, our focus is how to present a formidable squad at the World Championships in Oregon and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham,” Okowa stated.
The AFN boss revealed, yesterday, that the second batch of Nigeria’s contingent to Mauritius would arrive in Lagos today.
On his part, Solomon Ogba stated that the national trials in Benin would be staged to match the rising profile of track and field in Nigeria.
The Guardian recalls that Team Nigeria captured a total of 11 medals made up of five gold, three silver and three bronze medals to finish third on the medals table behind Kenya and South Africa in Mauritius.