Team Delta contingent gets rousing welcome in Asaba
• ‘We don’t celebrate silver, bronze medals’
Team Delta got a rousing welcome in Asaba, yesterday, when the contingent hit the state capital from Ilorin, Kwara State, where they won the 2021 National Youth Games title for keeps.
Victory at the National Youth Games, which ended on Tuesday, was the sixth consecutive title for the team.
The journey from Ilorin to Asaba took the team almost a whole day due to bad road. But the team’s late arrival notwithstanding, children and market women lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the champions.
The athletes, their coaches and accompanying officials were later told by the government to return to their respective homes pending a formal reception by the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
Team Delta got 60 gold, 36 silver and 28 bronze medals; their best performance in the history of the National Youth Games.
It is the second time Team Delta will be winning the trophy for keeps, having ruled the Games since inception in 2013.
Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, chairman of Delta Sports Commission, Tonobok Okowa, said: “I must commend our athletes and coaches for their discipline throughout the Games. Even in the face of provocation and harassment by some states, they remained focused.
“You don’t win Games through intimidation of your opponents. In Team Delta, what we preach to our athletes is to target the gold and leave the silver and bronze medals for the opponents.”
We don’t celebrate silver and bronze. Not that we don’t appreciate our athletes who finish second and third, but we always target the gold first.”
Okowa, who is also the president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) added: “We prepare our athletes very well for any competition. You saw what happened during the closing ceremony on Tuesday at the Unilorin sports complex. We cleared all the medals available in track and field.
“Our athletes were in camp for over one month preparing for the Games. We discover athletes and nurture them to stardom. I thank our governor and all Deltans for the support given to the team.”
In 2019, Team Delta got eight gold medals in athletics, but this term it surpassed the 12 gold medals target by grabbing 14 gold in track and field at Ilorin 2021.