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Foreign-based athletes boycott AFN’s African Games trials in Kaduna

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FILE PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI.

• It’s a jamboree event, says board member
• Adegoke, Itsekiri shine in 100m

A board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) yesterday described as ‘jamboree’ the African Games trials conducted by the body in Kaduna, following absence of foreign-based stars from the event.

For months, foreign-based athletes had been threatening not to honour AFN’s invitation for the African Games trials following inability of the body to settle their previous allowances.

The athletes claimed they had not been paid for their participation in Asaba 2018 Senior African Athletics Championship.

It was also learnt yesterday that some of the home-based athletes competed in the trials yesterday under protest as they claimed they were still owed monies for their participation in the Confederation of African Athletics U-18 and U-20 Championships in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, as well as the ECOWAS U-20 Athletics Championships in Cape Coast, Ghana, African Championships and World Relays.

A board member of the AFN, who spoke with The Guardian from Kaduna yesterday tongue-lashed top officials of the body as well as the sports ministry for organising a ‘jamboree’ trials.

“This is a big joke,” he said. “An Africa Games trial without the foreign-based stars is a mere jamboree as far as I am concerned. The sports ministry is the biggest joke I have ever seen in this country. They told the foreign-based athletes to pay for their flight tickets to attend this trial. The question I ask them is what about students who don’t have such money to buy flight tickets? You can see how these people are messing up Nigerian sports,” the AFN board member said.

Both AFN president, Shehu Gusau and General Secretary, Adamu Elijah refused to answer phone calls made by The Guardian yesterday.

Meanwhile, two home-based sprinters, Enok Adegoke and Itsekiri Usheoritse gave a good account of themselves in the 100m race yesterday evening.

While Adegoke ran 10.13 seconds in the first semifinal, Itsekiri ran 10.16 seconds in the second semifinal.

The Guardian recalls that Itsekiri made big headlines at a recent 100m event in Germany, where he ran an inspiring 10.07 seconds, which was a huge personal best for the 21-year-old sprinter. He had improved his personal best to 10.27 seconds at the last National Sports Festival held in Abuja.


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