Okagbare to join Team Nigeria in Congo
Yakmut assures athletes of Presidential reward, as last batch departs
THE last batch of Team Nigeria for the on-going All Africa Games in Congo left Abuja yesterday, with assurance by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) that sprinter, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, would link up with the team in Brazzaville.
There were media reports early yesterday that US-based Okagbare would depart with the contingent from Abuja, after the sprinter was said to have made a u-turn on her decision to opt out from the All Africa Games.
But the Technical Director of the AFN, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama told The Guardian in a telephone chat that Okagbare is expected to join the team in Congo. “We are expecting Okagbare and some other athletes to link up with us in Congo,” Nesiama said.
The Director General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Al-Hassan Yakmut had insisted earlier in the week that any athlete who refused to compete for Nigeria in the All Africa Games in Congo would not be part of the country’s contingent to next year’s Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
Athletics event for the All Africa Games will begin on September 14 and in a list of 22 athletes and ten officials released by the AFN yesterday, Okagbare is expected to compete in three events, 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay.
Other female athletes in the events are Gloria Asumnu, Stephanie Kalu, Deborah Odeyemi, Cecilia Francis and Ngozi Onwumere. Meanwhile, the NSC boss, Yakmut, led top shots of the commission to bid the country’s last batch farewell yesterday, as they departed for Congo, urging the contingent from athletics, wrestling, judo and taekwondo to go do Nigeria proud by winning clean.
He reassured them that the days when athletes, who are the main actors are relegated to the background are gone, adding that their welfare is uppermost in for the present NSC.
Yakmut reiterated that athletes, both home and foreign based would be given equal treatment and that henceforth coaches who make any team must do so on merit and not because they go on errands for federation secretaries. He told the athletes that a presidential reception awaits them if they win laurels for Nigeria in Congo.