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Okagbare, Egwin hit London, other athletes stranded in Lagos


Blessing Okagbare.

• Tosin Oke cleared by IAAF
• NAWIS protest over Rosa Collins rocks Abuja today

The hope of Team Nigeria making a bold statement in this year’s IAAF World Athletics Championship in London may be scuttled following the likely forced absence of some of the athletes from their events due to delay by the British High Commission to issue visas to the contingent. Two Nigerian athletes, US-based Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and Emerald Egwin have found their way to London for the championship.

While officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) are still battling to secure visas for the athletes and coaches for the World Championship, what appears a major challenge to the body may take place this morning as the Nigerian Association of Women In Sports (NAWIS) is said to have planned a big protest around major streets in Abuja to press home its demand that its representative on the board, Rosa Collins, be given the chance to contest the AFN presidency.

The London 2017 World Championship will commence tomorrow with the preliminary of men’s 100m race among events on the schedule. Okagbare, who is already in London and other female sprinters, will take their turn on Friday for the 100m race.

It was learnt yesterday that the British High Commission was yet to issue visas to other athletes, coaches and AFN board members. Secretary General of AFN, Amaechi Akawo told The Guardian yesterday that United States-based 400m runner, Emerald Egwin, had also arrived London. Egwin is in the women’s 4x400m relay team alongside Patience Okon-George, Ajayi Bamgbose and Abike Egbeniyi.

Former national triple jump king, Tosin Oke has been cleared by IAAF to compete in the championship. The news about Oke’s registration for the triple jump event was conveyed by the IAAF to the AFN yesterday. Oke’s addition has increased to 18 the number of Nigerian athletes that will compete at the championships following the addition of sprint hurdler, Lindsay Lindley in the 100m hurdles and the 4x100m women’s relay team.

Meanwhile, NAWIS officials are said to have mobilized thousands of people to join in today’s planned protest around major streets of Abuja to register its dissatisfaction over the manner in which former African triple jump queen, Rosa Collins was ‘rigged out’ of the AFN presidential race in the last sports federation election.

A board member of the AFN, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, said: “The issue of visa delay for the athletes and officials for the London championship is on one side, but what is uppermost for some of us now is the protest by NAWIS in Abuja tomorrow (today). I am on my way to Abuja now to join NAWIS in the protest because we can’t allow such injustice done to Rosa Collins to stand. The Presidency, National Assembly and the Senate have to come into this matter,” the board member stated.

It would be recalled that the sporting federations elections re-run ordered by the appeals committee was over ruled by Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, who reinstated Ibrahim Gusau as the AFN boss. The appeals committee had invalidated the conduct of elections into athletics, taekwondo, gymnastics and weightlifting based on petitions by aggrieved parties.

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