Competitions critical to athletes’ selection for international competitions, AFN president says

Tonobok Okowa, the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), says regular competition will help in selecting the best athletes to represent the country at future international competitions.

Mr Okowa said this during the closing ceremony of the third edition of the All-Comers National Athletics Championships on Friday at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.

“The first edition of the All-Comers competition was held at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin in March. The second edition was at the Yaba College of Technology Sports Ground in Lagos in April and the third one is this one in Abuja.

“The objective of it all is to select the athletes to represent Nigeria at the forthcoming 22nd African Senior Athletics Championships in Mauritius.

“Many new athletes have now been discovered and picked. They have been making waves, competing with the older athletes, and coming out with a given better time than the earlier one in the grassroots development programme.

“I am therefore happy that this development is making way for the numerous younger ones who are getting pushed,” he said.

Mr Okowa noted that the best way to identify young athletes is through a grassroots sports development programme.

“The result is what we have seen here in this competition,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day event began on Thursday and ended on Friday.

The 22nd African Senior Athletics Championships is scheduled to hold in Mauritius from June 8 to June 12. The AFN president stated that athletes for the Federation’s Classics event would also be picked for camping.

He also acknowledged that the Federation’s coaches have been working very hard.

“The federation is set to come up with welfare packages, both for the athletes and coaches, and the more they work the better they become.”
Mr Okowa however pointed out that there were no good facilities to help athletes across the country push their dreams.

“The major challenge of the athletes in Nigeria is lack of facilities for their training ahead of any major competition,” he said.

Mr Okowa then urged state governments to start thinking about putting on ground good facilities for athletes in their various areas so as to achieve their athletes’ dreams.

Speaking also, Samuel Onikeku, the Technical Director of AFN, said the objectives of the All-Comers competition have been achieved and many athletes have been discovered.

“We have discovered some athletes and when we select the athletes we will release the list, latest by Monday for those that will go to camp.

“Those athletes are to be picked based on performance,” he said.

While enumerating the next plans of the Federation’s technical committee, he said committee members would be looking at how they were going to invite athletes to camp immediately.

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