Team Delta will rule D. K. Olukoya Athletics Championship, says Ojokolo
• Yusuf Alli tips Kwara, Cross River
Former African track queen, Endurance Ojokolo has said that Team Delta will live up to its rating by winning the 5th edition of the D. K. Olukoya Youth and Junior Athletics Championship, which begin today at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
This year’s edition of the championship will serve as trial for the African Youth Athletics Championships in Mauritius scheduled for April 23-26 and the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, Columbia in July.
Ojokolo, who is one of the coaches in-charge of Team Delta youth and junior athletics team, ruled the track both in Africa and World stage for more than a decade.
She told The Guardian yesterday that Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, had solidly supported and encouraged youth and junior competitions in the last eight years, adding that the athletes are in pole position to dictate where the pedal swings in any age-group competitions in the country.
“I strongly believe that right now in the country, Delta is the only state in camp for the D.K. Olukoya Athletics Championship. The athletes have been training day and night in preparation for the competition. As a coach and from what I have seen in the camp, I am very sure Delta will do well to win overall in both the youth and junior categories,” Ojokolo said.
It was learnt yesterday that Team Delta organized a mini trial for its athletes two weeks ago at Sapele Township Stadium to pick the best crop of youth and junior athletes for the D.K. Olukoya championship.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, Nigeria has benefited from Delta State youth and junior programme in sports.
Some Delta youth and junior athletes who have made the country proud in international completions includes Ese Brume, who against all expectations, who a gold medal at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the African Senior Athletics Championship in Morocco last year. Brume won two gold and a silver medal at the 2013 edition of the African Junior Championship held in Mauritius.
Another athlete, sprinter Divine Oduduru made history last year by picking a silver medal at the World Junior Athletics Championship held in Oregon, Eugene, USA. He won the 200m gold on the last day in Mauritius 2013 to take Team Nigeria to the top of the medals table.
However, Team Delta may have to go the extra mile to meet its set objectives, going by the prediction of Meet Manager, Yussuf Alli.
Alli, who is one of the best jumpers to emerge from African continent, said that he equally expects tough competition from junior athletes from Kwara and Cross River states.
“These states (Delta, Kwara and Cross River), have been consistent in producing young athletes in the last few years. I expect athletes from these states to dominate the sprints, jumps, quarter-mile and hurdles,” he said.
Meanwhile, AFN President, Solomon Ogba and Technical Director, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, told The Guardian yesterday that everything needed to make this year’s D.K. Olukoya Athletics Championship a huge success had been put in place.