Despite an apparent slow start to the 20th National Sports Festival, Edo 2020 by Team Rivers, having garnered eight gold medals with some silver and bronze medals, four days into the fiesta, there are still hope that the state’s contingent would still take the festival by storm and live up to expectation.
Speaking to newsmen in Benin City yesterday as the festival progresses, Rivers State’s Commissioner for Sports, Hon Boma Iyaye said that expections in Team Rivers camp were still
very high. He said that despite the apparent low medal haul in the opening days of the festival, he was confident of the team doing very well. According to him, “the important thing is that the athletes we’re feeling good, well and putting in their best and there’s hope that at the end of the day, they’ll do well and achieve a position befitting to the pride of the state”.
On the chances of the team in the track and field events, scheduled to commence today, where the state is expecting ample medals harvest, Hon Iyaye said that he is hopeful, especially, in high jump, where Big Brother star, looks a sure bet for gold, but that no one should get ahead of himself until the competition is concluded.”We are hopeful but we should not count our chicks before they are hatched. Our athletes are prepared and ready, our Governor provided the wherewithall for us and we’re looking forward to making the state proud”.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sports and Head of Festival Committee, Sir Honour Sirawoo, said that it is not over until it is over. He expressed confidence that as the festival progresses and gets to events where the state has some comparative advantage, there are chances that the contingent would surpass the 69 gold medals won at the last festival. He believes that Team Rivers has the potential to emerge overall winners but that recent history shows that states like Delta, Edo and few others should not be discountenanced.
As at press time, many Team Rivers athletes have qualified for the finals of their events, especially, in combat sports and there is hope for more medals.
RSG Restates Commitment To Youth Dev Via Sports
The Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on School Sports, Chief Aribitonye Okiri, has said that the state government-led by Chief Nyesom Wike, is committed to develop youths in the State through sports.
He stated that it is not in doubt that the State has hidden talents at the grassroots that are yet to be discovered.
Chief Okiri, said this at the finals of the National School Sports Competition held at Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports Complex in Port Harcourt, on Wednesday.
According to him, Governor Wike is poised to reach out to young ones in all the local government areas, in the state and engage them with sporting activities in a bid to discover hidden talents.
“As I speak, the governor has reiterated his desire to reach out to the children in all parts of the state and unearth their talents through engagement in sports, believing that all Rivers children are talented” Chief Okiri said.
Also speaking, the second Vice President of Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF), Pastor Emmanuel Ebong, thanked Governor Wike, for proving a worthy partner of NSSF and appeal to other corporate organisations to emulate Nigeria Breweries Ltd in partnering NSSF in sports development.
At the end of the final competition, Community Secondary School, Okochiri in Okrika Local Government Area, dominated the medal table.
24 States Set For Lagos Athletics Championship
The Lagos State Athletics Association has confirmed the entry of 24 states and some clubs for its lucrative Athletics Meet fixed for Thursday, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Yussuf Alli who is the Meet Director for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship made the disclosure at the weekend even as he hinted a few other states may still join the already confirmed 24 states and clubs.
He said: “Yes, we are very much on track for the Lagos Open Athletics Championship which will be coming up this Thursday.
“Right now, we already have 24 states and some top racing clubs that have confirmed their participation, a few more may join before we close the window.”
The Lagos Open Athletics Championship is a one-day meet simultaneously serving as another qualifying window for the Tokyo Olympics as well as a preparatory event for athletes that have already qualified for the sporting showpiece.
In the past days, Lagos has been a beehive of activities with the National trials at the Yaba College of Technology Sporting complex and now the train is moving to the heart of the city in Surulere as the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics continues to gather momentum.
The list of events to be competed for at the Lagos Open Athletics Championship includes the 5,000 meters, 400 meters hurdles, 100 meters, 800 meters, 400 meters, and 100 meters.
There would also be top-quality action across the relay events including; the 4×100 meters open, 4×100 meters open and 4×400 meters mixed relay.
Long jump, High jump, Triple jump, Shot put as well as 4×100 secondary schools relay and 4×100 secondary schools relay have all been penciled down for the maiden Lagos Open Athletics Championship.
Already, the top three finishers across all the events have been assured mouthwatering prizes by the organisers.
Okagbare Sets New Record At Olympic Trials
Blessing Okagbare will be heading to Tokyo Olympics in the best form of her life after running the second fastest time in the world this season.
The 32-year-old ran 10.63 seconds to win the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Olympic Trials at the Sports Complex of Yaba College of Technology in Lagos on Thursday.
The 10.63 seconds time saw her tie with Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’ best time in 2021 ahead of the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Okagbare ran 10.99 seconds in the semifinal of the event to set a new championship record , and before clocking 10.63 seconds in the final to set a new record. The scorching 10.63 time is also a new African record. Only Florence Griffith Joyner who holds the world record at 10.49 seconds has run faster. The Nigerian has now emerged one of the favourites for the 100m gold at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who first ran 10.63 seconds this season.
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