2,500 Athletes Vie for Laurels at Nigerian Navy Games

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Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The Nigerian Navy has said that it will parade a strong contingent of 2,500 athletes from all its naval formations at the 11th Nigerian Navy Games scheduled for Uyo, Akwa Ibom State from February 26 to March 4.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, at a media briefing at the weekend, said that the games were consistent with the Navy’s policy of using sports to build the mental and physical fitness of its personnel to man the ships for sea and ashore duties.

 Admiral Ibas similarly said that the Navy which participated in the Indian Navy Regatta in December last year, intended to use the events for talent hunt for Nigeria for the African Games (formerly All Africa Games) in Equatorial Guinea in 2019 and the forthcoming Armed Forces Games.

He spoke through his representative, Naval Chief of Administration Rear Admiral Henry Babalola.

According to him, all the commands, including the Western, Eastern, Naval Training Commands and Naval Headquarters Command are expected at the games. Each command will be represented by 250 athletes and officials.

They will compete in 17 sports at the weeklong festivity. The events include athletics (track and field), badminton, basketball, boxing (men), chess, football (men) golf, handball, judo, scrabble, squash racket, table tennis, taekwondo, tug of war, tennis, volleyball and wresting.

The three other aquatic sports; swimming, sailing and kayak were held two weeks ago in Lagos, according to the Director of Sports Nigeria Navy, Commodore Suraju Bello.

Admiral Ibas lauded the wisdom of Akwa Ibom government to gracefully accept to host  the games in 10 secondary schools across the three senatorial districts of the state, adding the facilities will make the state a force in the country in the years ahead.

He added that the Nigerian Navy which in 1974 took the first practical steps when it organised sports championship for the Navy Week celebrations, hoped to use the games to produce great athletes for Nigeria in the mould of Nojeem Maiyegun, who won Nigeria’s first Olympic medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 in the light middleweight category and Warrant Corporal and Training Instructor Gilbert, who was also at the 1964 Games and second All Africa Games in 1973 as a member of the Nigerian boxing team.