Nigerian cyclists off to Eritrea for African Cup
An 11-member Nigerian cycling team last night left for Eritrea, where they will participate in the first ever African Cup from November 21 to 25, 2018. The team of five ladies, three men and three technical officials will try to use the competition to qualify for both the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the World Championship, as it serves as qualifiers for the competitions.
Cycling Federation of Nigeria (CFN) President, Giandomenico Massari said in Abuja yesterday that the federation had to bend backwards to finance the trip because of its importance to the aspirations of Team Nigeria ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and 2019/20 World Championships.
“The competition is the first of its kind in the continent. It is important we participate and qualify at this championship, because it is a point-scoring event for qualification to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World Championship.
“For us, it is a must go event. It is for this reason that we have made sure that the team participate,” he said.
He added that everything the team required for success at the African Cup had been provided by the federation, including visa and travel arrangement, lodging and accommodation, equipment and all other support the team needed to excel.
Among the elite women cyclists in the team are Tombrapa Grikpa, Ese Ukpeseraye, Rosemary Marcus, Glory Odiase and Iroh Obiageri.
The male cyclists are Korutimi Pabor, Shamsudeen Alhassan, Fatiu Abolaji, while the technical officials are Joy Wachukwu (Team Coach) and Auwalu Yakubu (Team Mechanic).
The team is led by Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) member and Technical Director of the CFN, Mohammed Bashir.
To adequately prepare Team Nigeria for the competition, Massari said the cyclists had a month’s intensive training camp in the hills of Gombe, which was chosen because of its difficult terrain.
“Like the Giro delle Marche, the competition is sponsored by the federation, good willed people are still the ones supporting the federation. At the moment, nothing is coming from the government but let me be frank, I am not so worried about this funding issues. What I am worried about is for us to have the right facilities that can boost the sport of cycling.
“We have over the years been crying over the velodrome here that has not been utilised. What we have here is what other nations are looking for, but we use ours as packing lot. We need to get it ready for UCI accreditation so that we can start hosting national and international competitions,” he said.