Nigeria hopeful as World U20 Athletics Championships begin in Cali
Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Tonobok Okowa, says the next set of stars to represent Nigeria at future global championships and Games will be unearthed at the World U-20 Athletics Championships, which begin today in Cali, Colombia.
“The World U-20 Championships have become the breeding ground for us and most of our top stars today have always graduated from the championships to become top athletes in the world,” Okowa said.
“Last year, we had an impressive outing at the U-20 Championships in Nairobi, where we achieved an unprecedented feat. Some of the athletes have now grown to become top stars and Nigeria’s national record holders today.
“Favour Ofili has grown to become the fastest Nigerian ever in the 200m event (21.96) after winning three medals in Nairobi while Nnamdi Chinacherem Prosper is now Nigeria’s record holder in Javelin Throw (81.22m).
“Last year, Nathaniel Ezekiel did not make it to the podium but he is today the Nigeria record holder in the 400m hurdles, breaking a 35-year-old record set by Henry Amike at the 1987 World Athletics Championships in Rome, Italy”.
“The exposure of the athletes is key to us. Some of the World and Olympic medallists we have produced never made it to podium at the World U-20 championships, but they built on that exposure to become medallists at global championships and Games.”
The World U-20 Championships will run from August 1 to 8 in Cali, Colombia and Team Nigeria is already on ground to not only compete for honours but also to banish the ghost of their non-appearance in 2000 when South America first hosted the championships in Chile.