The 2016 All-Nigeria Athletics Championship which serves as trial for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil begins this morning at the Sapele Township Stadium with the cream of Nigerian stars on parade.
The three-day track & field fiesta is to come to a flourishing end with the CAA Grand Prix and Warri Relays.
Sapele residents are already salivating, looking forward to a highly competitive championships, this is not surprising given the city’s strong athletics pedigree.
Sapele is the home of Endurance Ojokolo, Olusoji Fasuba and Divine Oduduru who all learnt the art of sprinting here, it is also the home of Endurance Abinuwa and Blessing Okagbare-Ighotegunor to mention a few.
Okagbare is not the only star that will be on parade as many others are also in town to fight for places in Team Nigeria squad to Rio.
Seye Ogunlewe, the reigning 100m champion faces a strong field of challengers like Oduduru, Obinna Metu and Ogho-Oghene Egwero.
In the women version of the short sprint, poster girl, Okagbare remains unassailable. However, in the case of a false start, waiting in the wing to profit are: Gloria Asumnu, Khadija Suleiman, Jennifer Madu and a host of other pretenders.
The women’s 400m will also be interesting, Patience Okon-George is the national leader this season but she will face stiff competition from Margaret Bamigbose, Sade Abugan, Ekundayo Sogbesan, Ibukun Maiyegun, Omolara Omotosho and others.
The CAA Grand Prix and Warri Relays will equally be exciting with South Africa, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya and others sending in their best teams.
Technical Manager of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Yussuf Alli, is excited about the 2016 championships.
“This is the biggest turnout of local and foreign-based athletes in the history of the championships. We have over 40 athletes from Europe and America alone, this is massive. I am happy this is taking place in Sapele Township Stadium because the track is very fast and the people are athletics friendly’’.
Alli on behalf of AFN thanked the Delta State Government through the state’s sports commission and Seplat Petroleum for their support in making the trial possible.