With less than eight
months to the biennial National Sport Festival to be hosted by Cross River State, Governor Liyel Imoke, has assured that various sporting facilities would be completed and ready for use in August.
Governor Imoke, who gave the assurance during an inspection tour of facilities currently under construction, noted that construction work had progressed a lot more than his previous inspection.
“A lot of progress has been made from the last time that I was here. We have been to all the sites and most of the contractors have confirmed that they will be ready by May and June 2014. What that means is that it will afford us the time to test-run all the facilities with the Cross River State AFN Athletic Championship.”
Describing the facilities tour as a routine, Imoke , who assured that the state was more than ready to host the national games in November, said his administration would ensure that everything was in place not later than August.
According to him, “We will also ensure that everything else that is needed to be completed will be in place not later than August. So we should be able to make the facilities available thereafter for training and for use leading up to the National Sport Festival in November.”
On the state’s readiness, Governor Imoke expressed optimism that, “Cross River State is always ready because we do not take on things that we are not ready for. So we are always ready.”
At the U.J. Esuene Stadium, one of the venues for the games inspected by the governor, grasses were seen being laid by the workers. Imoke, however, urged that the pace of work at the 2,600-seater multi-purpose indoor hall be intensified.
Among the facilities inspected by the governor, there were concrete assurances by contractors handling different projects that the various deadlines set for the completion of work would be met without fail.
Currently under construction are three lawn tennis courts at the Calabar Tennis Club, which would bring to six the number of courts to be used at the club.
Others are two volleyball and handball courts; a hockey pitch, two Olympic standard swimming pools and a basketball court.
I’m Punching Like A Horse Kicking – Joshua
Anthony Joshua has said that he is “punching like a horse kicking backwards” and holds “no fear” going into his highly anticipated rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.
At a charged news conference next to the Diriyah Arena where the two fight in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, Ruiz, 30, warned there is “no way” he will lose.
Joshua added he will weigh in lighter than the 17st 9lbs he posted before his New York defeat as part of a new plan.
“I may be less than 17 stone,” he told Tidesports source.
“I’m punching loose and heavy, rhythm and flow,” the 30-year-old added. “Before I was trying to bench-press a house. I used my body to get where I needed but then I started realising the sweet science of the sport.
“I am punching like a horse kicking backwards right now.”
Joshua has not weighed less than 17st since 2014 and an analyst, Steve Bunce said his projected weight was a “stunning revelation”.
Ruiz, perhaps playing mind games, arrived at the news conference sporting a New York Knicks jersey. Joshua was housed in the changing room of the NBA franchise for the first bout, where he suffered one of the most shocking defeats in heavyweight history and lost the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles.
As the pair faced off, Joshua’s team shouted “two times” behind him in reference of his chance to win the world titles for a second time. Ruiz’s team responded, shouting “and still” as the camera flashes lit up both men.
Joshua, who had his final six-round spar on Tuesday, was asked if winning the belts back would be a career high and replied: “I was asked if it will be a special moment and said ‘no’ as I know I belong there.
“When I got back from New York, I didn’t lose any heart or fire in my belly and started punching the heavy bag preparing for this day. There is no fear in my heart, my eyes or mind, I am confident.”
The venue for the news conference and fight, on the outskirts of Riyadh in Diriyah, are flanked by a fairground and a stage that will host US artist Usher and Chris Brown today.
The world’s best-paid fighter Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson are expected to attend a fight that has been widely criticised as a result of the host country’s human rights record.
Those involved have made no secret of the financial motivation to come here, with Joshua set to earn upwards of £50m and promoter Eddie Hearn defiantly told reporters it was “a wonderful, wonderful decision”.
Ruiz described Saudi Arabia as “the perfect place to make history” and his stunning stoppage win six months ago ranked high in the sport’s archive of upsets.
Asked if he held any fear over the kind of power that saw Joshua knock him down in New York, he said. “Not really. I was the one who had the strength, the one backing him up. When I jabbed I pushed him away.
“I know he lost weight and that he will try and box me around, so it’s my job to prevent that.
“I have been doing this since I was six and it is finally paying off. There is no way I am going to let these belts go, I will die trying. It has been a rollercoaster and now that I made the dreams come true there is no way I will let these go.”
Joshua’s back-to-basics approach for the bout has been well documented and he again said he had no interest in delivering a “show” but was just “here to win”.
His promoter Hearn has expressed how nervous he is given his marquee fighter would slip down the heavyweight pecking order with a second defeat.
Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken, who faced criticism after the first loss, said his fighter was “in a much better place” this time around.
And Joshua also said that defeat made him use his “time wisely” in prioritising his skills over other aspects of training.
“When Muhammad Ali was training he said he would build a shack to train in,” added Joshua.
“There are clues to success and you have to go back to what it takes to be a great heavyweight champion. We had to bring in hard, rough sparring partners. I brought in the toughest and roughest.”
Confed Cup: Enyimba Aims To Bounce Back
Enyimba will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways in the 2019-20 CAF Confederations Cup when they play host to FC San Pedro at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba on Sunday afternoon.
Kick-off is at 3:00pm CAT.
The Peoples’ Elephant slumped to a 2-0 loss away to Hassania Agadir in their Group D opener last weekend with two goals in five first-half minutes leading the Moroccans to victory.
San Pedro conjured a point from their opening group stage fixture with the Ivorian club held to a 0-0 draw at home to Paradou AC.
Enyimba head coach Usman Abdallah is confident that his side will learn from their defeat in Agadir, as they now set their sights on making home advantage count in their favour.
He was quoted as saying: “We lost but all is in the past, I had the full confidence that I am going to come out victorious in this match which turned out to be that we lost but that is football.
“I’ll take a lesson from that and we will learn a lot from the mistakes. I have seen a lot of things that we did right and many that we didn’t do right. So that’s the only way to gain more experience so that we can apply it elsewhere.”
The Nigeria champions have never won Africa’s second tier competition, but reached the semi-finals in 2018 before losing to eventual champions Raja Casablanca.
‘Govt Should Encourage Private Sector Participation In Sports’
Government at all levels should provide enabling environment and facilities to encourage private sector operators to go into sports for the much needed development to take place.
A former Commissioner for Youth Development and Sports in Anambra State, Chief Joseph Okeke, gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Awka, yesterday.
“It is the duty of government at the federal, state and local levels to offer incentives in the form of patronage, waiver, etc to individuals, corporate organisations that promote sporting activities.
“Government should as well build sports facilities such as stadia, indoor sports halls, swimming pools and others at catchment locations.
“Then, motivated sports philanthropists will move to schools, towns to attract participants that are numerous, but not knowing how to start, to showcase their talents,” he said.
Okeke said that the country was losing huge resources by not producing sportsmen and women that would win laurels for us.
“Go to our primary, secondary schools, you will see a lot of budding young talents that are growing with nobody wooing them into sports.
“There are lots of benefits to be derived from being a sports person which include monetary reward, fame, scholarships and expense-free international travels which will make the fellow a household name,” he said.
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