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Team Nigeria’s U.S. tour is not a waste, says Ogba

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Solomon Ogba


• Lagos may host Africa Athletics Championships

Former President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba, says the nation’s athletes’ tour of United States ahead of the Tokyo Olympics is not a waste.

After missing the Poland Relays due to visa issues, Team Nigeria settled for the tour of U.S. while some felt it was a wasteful venture since top Nigerian athletes like Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru won’t be part of it due to their busy schedule. Ogba travelled to the United States last week, and was present at the 2021 USTAF Open Meet in Dallas, Texas on May 18, where some Nigerian athletes competed against their counterparts from other countries, including some top American runners.

Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, Ogba said: “It wasn’t a bad idea by the Sports Ministry to take Team Nigeria to the tour of U.S. I agree the primary aim of the tour is to qualify the relay teams for the Tokyo Olympics, but the athletes needed to run well individually to be able to compete for the qualification tickets in the relays.

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“I watched the athletes at the USTAF Open Meet in Dallas on Tuesday (May 18), and I was impressed with their performance. For instance, Enoch Adegoke and Grace Nwokocha were able to hold their own against Americans, who are among the best 100m runners in the world at the moment. I read some media reports that Nigerian athletes performed poorly at the meet. That is wrong. They (journalists) should have considered the circumstances under which our athletes ran, including the terrible wind. Such negative reports coming from our media is capable of demoralising the athletes. They should stop that,” Ogba stated.

Team Nigeria will participate in a relay event in Texas on May 25 before relocating to Florida for their last event scheduled for May 30.
Meanwhile, the city of Lagos is preparing to host the African Senior Athletics Championships in June. The original host country, Algeria, pulled out last week.

Ogba told The Guardian from his base in the U.S. yesterday that Nigeria is in the race to host the championship, which Asaba, Delta State hosted in 2018.

“The CAA (Confederation of African Athletics) will make a pronouncement on it soon to help the athletes plan their calendar. For now, the competition is still on the card because it has a lot of importance for African countries going to the Olympics.” The Guardian learnt yesterday that two other countries, Tunisia and Zambia, are also in the race to host the event.

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