All the gold medallists in Nigeria’s Under-18 team that won the maiden African Youth Athletics Championships in Warri at the weekend have been rewarded with N1milllion for doing the country proud.
Nigeria won 13 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals to top the competition that had 33 African countries in attendance at the youth athletics fiesta in Warri.
President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba who was elated by the feat of the Nigerian youths, handed out $500 (about N79,000) to each of the gold medallists in addition to their daily camp allowances.
“These kids and all the other medallists have shown that there is future for track & field in Nigeria. If in barely one month that we assembled them for training at the High Performance Centre at the University of Port Harcourt they can win an African youth competition, then we need not look anywhere for talents anymore,” observed the AFN president at the Hotel Excel camp of the Nigerian team on Sunday night.
Ogba insisted that his federation has commenced plans to get some of the athletes with potentials schools in Port Harcourt so that they can continue their training programme.
“We are going to get some of the athletes schools in Port Harcourt so that they can continue their training at the IAAF High Performance Centre ahead of the World Junior Championships and the African Junior slated for middle of the year in South Africa,” stressed the former Delta State sports commissioner.
Ugeh Kasie Veronica, who won the girls Javelin gold for Nigeria on the final day, throwing a distance of 44.33m ahead of Ethiopia's Birinesh Bire Dubale (40.35m) and Egypt's Aya Mohammed Tawfik Elsaeed Elk (36.31m) thanked the AFN leadership and promised to continue to improve in order to win more laurels for the country.
“When the president asked us to go out there and do the country proud, I told myself that a bronze medal will not be good enough from me. That was why I went for my best that won the gold for Nigeria,” enthused the SS3 student whose sight is fixed on an Africa junior medal in the event in Pretoria, South Africa in June.
Meanwhile, the junior athletes who have been in camp for over a month were Sunday granted one week break to go home to be with their parents after which they will regroup ahead of the African and global junior events slated for later this year.
Team Nigeria hauled a total of eight gold medals out of the 16 on offer on the final day of competition to emerge the maiden winners of the AYAC with 13 gold medals.
Egypt, leaders for first three days of competition came second with eight gold, six silver and two bronze medals. Ethiopia upstaged their bitterest rivals, Kenya with four gold medals haul on the final day to bring their total haul to six gold,13 silver and six bronze medals to pick the third spot while Kenya came fourth with five gold, four silver and two bronze medals.
A total of 16 out of the 33 countries that took part in the five-day championships are represented on the medals table.