Monday, 25th September 2023

Eight Nigerian athletes may miss ‘Battle of Ndola’

By Gowon Akpodonor
23 April 2023   |   3:55 am
Nigeria contingent to the 2023 African U-18 and U-20 Athletics Championships will depart for Ndola, Zambia, April 26.

[FILES] Stadium track; EMORYWHEEL

Nigeria contingent to the 2023 African U-18 and U-20 Athletics Championships will depart for Ndola, Zambia, April 26.

President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tony Okowa, told The Guardian, yesterday, that the contingent, made up of 45 athletes and five officials would fly the nation’s flag in ‘battle of Ndola’.

“In all, we have a total of 50 people on the list, and they are expected to fly out on April 26 to be on ground ahead the opening ceremony on April 28,” Okowa stated.

In 2019, about 103 Nigerian athletes spent three days by road to Cote d’Ivoire despite the Federal Government alleged release of N13million to the former board of the AFN for the trip.

The Guardian, however, learnt yesterday, that eight athletes might be dropped from the list of athletes in camp due to delay in getting their international passport.

“As we speak, eight athletes have not been able to secure their international passport, and we have till midnight of today (yesterday) to get the team ready for the trip to Ndola. If they fail to get it ready before we draw our final list by midnight, it means they will be out of the journey. We have to go with only those whose passport is ready,” an official stated.

It was gathered that a total of 21 male athletes have been selected to fly Nigeria’s flag in the U20 category, while 19 female will feature in the U18 category.

As at yesterday afternoon, 47 athletes were still at the AFN’s camp in Asaba hoping to make the trip to Ndola.

The Technical Director of AFN, Samuel Onikeku, had told The Guardian, a few days ago, that the country could win more medals in field events than in its previous outings, when the championship runs from April 28 to May 5.

The AFN held one-day national trials at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, last Tuesday, where 40 athletes were picked from a pool of 58, who reported to the camp.

According to Onikeku, the athletes picked at the trials did well, particularly, in the field events like long jump, high jump, triple jump, discus and javelin.

Team Nigeria was moved from Abuja to the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba for the athletes to be used to the type of facilities they might meet in Ndola.

Nigeria finished third behind South Africa and Kenya at the 2019 edition held in Cote d’Ivoire.