Victorious Nigerian athletes arrive from Zambia today
• Win 17 gold, 10 silver, 9 bronze
After a successful outing at the 2023 African U-18 and U-20 Athletics Championships, the first batch of Nigerian athletes and officials will arrive in Lagos today.
Team Nigeria, with a contingent of 41 athletes, finished second on the final medals table, behind South Africa with 17 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze. South Africa paraded a squad of 120 people, including 105 athletes, at the battle of Ndola.
Speaking with The Guardian shortly before their departure from Ndola, yesterday, president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tonobok Okowa, commended the athletes for doing the nation proud in Zambia.
At the last edition of the championship held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in 2019, Nigeria finished third behind South Africa and Kenya. This time around in Ndola, Nigerian athletes pushed their Kenyan counterparts to the third position and also gave South Africa a stiff challenge in both track and field events.
Former AFN President, Solomon Ogba, who was part of the trip to Ndola, told The Guardian, yesterday, that all the athletes and officials could not travel to Zambia at same time due to difficulties in securing seats in one airline.
“Some of us will arrive in Lagos tomorrow (today), while the rest will come later. We couldn’t secure enough seats in one airline on our way to Zambia. I am sure Nigeria could have won more gold medals if our athletes had arrived earlier in Zambia. It was difficult for the AFN to raise the money for this trip and I must salute the president (Okowa) for his effort. I commend the athletes and the coaches for a job well done,” Ogba stated.
Meanwhile, Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, has sent a congratulatory message to the AFN and the athletes for the performance in Zambia.
The minister advised the athletes to stay focused, disciplined and continue to pay attention to their careers to earn more opportunities to represent the country in bigger competitions.