FUTA wears new look for AFN All Comers, Ebewele recalls days of Ezenwa, Deji Aliu
The Federal University of Technology (FUTA) Sports Centre in Akure, Ondo State capital is wearing a new look ahead of the All-Comers event, the first competition organised by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for athletes to kick-start their preparations for Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The AFN board, led by Olamide George, will use the competition to assess the readiness of the athletes for the new season.
The Guardian learned yesterday that all facilities needed by the track and field athletes in the one-day competition had arrived at the venue.
President of AFN, George and some members were at the venue yesterday to make sure everything was in place before the arrival of the athletes on Friday.
Speaking with The Guardian, George explained that the All-Comers in Akure was part of the strategies mapped out the AFN to ensure Team Nigeria did not extend the medal drought at the Olympics to 12 years at the end of competitions in Tokyo in August.
“The last time a Nigerian track and field athlete won a medal at the Games was in Beijing 2008, and we are determined to end that in Tokyo,” George said. “The Akure All-Comers competition is one of the events we have scheduled to monitor the performances of the home-based athletes. We intend to keep a database of the athletes as we intensify preparations for the African Championships and the Olympics in Tokyo,” George stated.
Technical Director, Brown Ebewele, said the All-Comers would be used to select the first set of athletes that will qualify for its first Classics competition, which holds in Ado Ekiti at the end of the month.
He disclosed that a certain number of athletes would qualify either by position or time for the classics, while the all-comers that will come a day before the Ado Ekiti event will be used to get the remaining set that will complete the line-up for each classics event.
“We are re-introducing a model that worked perfectly for us in the past where athletes will qualify to run in the classics. We will have four athletes who will qualify from a classics event while the remaining four that will make up an eight-lane event will be selected at an all-comers event that precedes each meeting,” Ebewele stated.
“What this will do is that it will engender competition among athletes as you will need to qualify for the Classics before you can be entitled to accommodation and transport subsidy. This is in addition to the prize monies on offer for each event. It was during that time we got home-based athletes running very fast and world-class times.
“I remember Deji Aliu ran 10.02 seconds in Bauchi in one of the legs of the event in March 1995. Davidson Ezinwa completed a sensational sprint double in January 1990 in Bauchi, where he ran 10.05 seconds over the 100m and 20.30 seconds in the 200m. There was so much competition then and this present board of the AFN wants to bring it all back.”
Sports Minister, Sunday Dare is expected to attend the event alongside some senior officials of the Ministry as part of a renewed commitment to a good showing at the Olympics.
AFN secretariat headed Prince Adisa Adeniyi Beyioku will ‘relocate’ to Akure tomorrow.
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