Ozoro stadium thrills Delta State athletes as sports festival begins
• It is a big boost for weightlifting, other events, says Oshoma
Five years after winning Eko 2012 National Sports Festival in Lagos, Delta State athletes and their officials have been waiting for an opportunity to showcase their skills. That opportunity will come today when the sixth Delta Sports Festival begins at the 14,000 capacity Ozoro Polytechnic Stadium.
The festival, which will run till May 12, will be held at four different venues across the state, including Asaba, Agbor, Obiaruku and Ozoro. The opening and closing ceremonies will hold at the newly commissioned ultra-modern Ozoro Polytechnic Sports Stadium.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, the head of Delta State’s weightlifting team, former Olympian, Coach Emmanuel Oshoma said the festival was a major boost to both the athletes and their officials.
“The athletes are so happy with the state government for this sports festival because since we returned from Eko 2012 National Sports Festival, some of the athletes have not participated in any sporting event. For instance, my event (weightlifting) has not witnessed any competition since then, but with this sports festival the athletes are excited competing for medals again.
“For some of them, who have been competing only at the local government level, this is an opportunity to show their skills at the state level. They are also looking forward to getting some allowances at the end of the festival,” Oshoma stated.
Some of the athletes, who spoke yesterday on arrival at Ozoro expressed joy over the high standard of sporting facilities at the venue.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is expected to declare the festival open later today, while Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung will be the Special Guest of honour among other dignitaries and sports enthusiasts that will grace the occasion.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that while Ozoro will host the track and field events, as well as football matches, Obiaruku will host the swimming event. The Agbor Township Stadium will host the cycling event, while Asaba, the state capital will be the venue for other events like weightlifting, wrestling, table tennis, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, squash, boxing, karate, baseball and softball.
Delta Sports Commission boss, Tony Okowa and Commissioner for Information, Patrick Ukah, who is a member of the Main Organising Committee, said yesterday that the festival would afford the state the avenue to put in place a strong team for the defence of its title at the National Sports Festival later this year.