Sport  |  Athletics  

Athletes to begin Olympic preparations in Akure, Ado Ekiti

By Gowon Akpodonor |   14 January 2020   |   3:55 am  

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) says the first and second phase of the 2020 All Comers event would hold in Akure, Ondo State capital and Ado Ekiti, capital of Ekiti State as part of its efforts to give Nigerian athletes a good beginning for the Tokyo Olympics.

Acting President of the federation, Olamide George, who recently visited some top Nigerian athletes in the United States of America, told The Guardian yesterday that the federation had learnt from its past mistakes saying: “We have to do things different from the past board. This is Olympics year, and our athletes have to be in good shape for the challenges ahead of them.

“We have various programmes already lined up abroad, but we will begin our programme for the home-based athletes with the first and second phase of the All Comers event in Akure and Ado Ekiti. The government of Ekiti has agreed to host the event in February. But the one in Akure will hold before then because it will not be wise for us to keep the athletes away from the track till February.

“Then, the 3rd and 4th phase of the All Comers event will move to other parts of the country before our National Open in Abuja. We will put all supporting structures in place early to ensure a proper and sustainable growth for Nigeria athletics,” George stated.According to him, the current AFN board is committed to an open, transparent and efficient management of track and field this year (2020) and beyond.

“The era of square pegs finding unmerited home in round holes is over,” George told The Guardian. “The AFN will be governed by its constitution and international best practice. It was the total disregard for this that made us objects of international ridicule at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia and the embarrassment at Doha 2019 World Championships. But that won’t happen again.”

George added that the AFN would provide the initiative and support towards talent discovery saying: “Nigeria is blessed with talents waiting to be unearthed and nurtured into greatness. What the AFN will be providing henceforth is the administrative and technical leadership to make sure we discover and nurture more talents into limelight as well as make our elite athletes perform at their optimal best.”

Speaking further, George revealed that the AFN’s programme is not limited to the Tokyo Olympics. “Track and field in 2020 is not just about the Olympics. We have plans to make the Golden League very attractive.

We are going to partner with corporate organisations, individuals and state governments in the development of the sport from the grassroots level. We will also organise seminars and workshops for our coaches and technical officials as well as games masters at secondary school level.”

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