Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
It was a harvest of budding talents as the maiden edition of Chioma Ajunwa athletics competition for secondary schools in Abia State ended with the twinkling stars exuding prospects of shinning out very brightly in a matter of few years of grooming.
No fewer than 34 schools competed in the three-day event with the student-athletes showcasing their talents in both track and field events, including 100, 200, 400 metres sprints, 4×100 and 4×400 relays as well as long jump and triple jump.
The competition was a starting block for the revival of school sports in Abia with teenagers between the ages of 11 and 16 really gave out their best as they vied for honours and prospects of burning the tracks at international athletic competitions with the attendant fame and wealth.
President of Chioma Ajunwa Foundation, ACP Chioma Ajunwa expressed satisfaction at the success recorded in the athletics competition, which was targeted at enhancing grassroots youth sports development.
The Olympic gold medalist said that she was encouraged to sustain the hunt for budding student athletes in Abia, adding that by partnering her foundation, the state governor Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has created the enabling environment for the discovery of athletes.
She said that the enthusiasm shown by student-athletes and the number of potential international athletes discovered at the competition has justified her decision to come and hunt for talents in Abia “the hub of talents”.
“I am so proud of you because from now I can see future Olympic champions,” Ajunwa said, adding, “Height and weight don’t matter but the quality in you.”
Ajunwa who promised to expose the discovered budding athletes to training opportunities and scholarships in order to hone in their athletic skills, seriously warned them against engaging in drugs in order not to end up ruining their future.
In his remarks at the closing ceremony the state Commissioner for Sports, Dr. Martins Okoji said that the successful conclusion of the sports competition has become a milestone in the development of sports in Abia.
He said that Governor Ikpeazu had further demonstrated his love for youths in Abia to develop their talents hence he had mandated the Sports Ministry to liaise with the Chioma Ajunwa Foundation to organise the athletics competition for Abia secondary schools.
The Sports Commissioner assured that the state government would henceforth start monitoring the development of the discovered student-athletes, adding that they would participate in the forthcoming Abia Sports Festival and the National Sports Fiesta slated for Ilorin.
Medals were presented to the champions in various events with the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Ahiaeke Ndume Umuahia coming out overall champion winning gold in 100m dash, 4×100 and 4×400 relays for boys.