Athletics Federation of Nigeria President Tonobock Okowa has charged the track and field team to the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics which gets underway on Friday to rewrite their record of participation at the quadrennial games.
Nigeria’s track and field team has failed to win a medal in the last two Olympics and Okowa believes the story will be different in Tokyo.
‘ I am confident our athletes will rewrite their record of participation at the event. The AFN has provided the enabling environment for the athletes and I am sure they will live up to our expectations,’ said the AFN president who will be in Tokyo to support the athletes.
Okowa is predicating is optimism on the pre-Games form of the athletes and the huge support received from both the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Nigeria Olympic Committee.
”Ese Brume has proved her status as one of the best horizontal jumpers in the world. Her African record setting 7.17m leap at the end of May is the farthest any long jumper has landed so far this year,’ he said and believes sprint hurdler Tobi Amusan, sprinters Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru and hammer thrower Annette Echikunwoke are world class athletes ranked among the top 10 in their events.
”Enoch Adegoke and Grace Nwokocha are dark horses waiting to spring surprises. Our 4x100m relay team is the best we have ever aasembled in terms of individual performances and should make it a hat-trick of Olympic medals in Tokyo,’ said a confident AFN head who reserved special praise for the Minister of Youth and Sports Development for his efforts in getting the athletes ready.
”The Minister’s adopt-an- athlete initiative has proved a game changer. For the first time in over two decades we have athletes who live here, train here and compete here achieve unprecedented feats. Adegoke ran 10.00 seconds to win the 100m at the Olympic trials at Yabatech last month. It is the fastest legal time ever achieved by a home based athlete on Nigerian track.
”Grace also achieved her phenomenal feat at Yabatech in March. Her 11.09 seconds time which qualified her for the Olympics is the fastest time achieved by a home based athlete in Nigeria in over two decades,’ revealed Okowa who charges the duo to emulate the feat achieved by Ese Brume at the 2016 Olympics.
”Ese also qualified for her debut Olympics here in Nigeria as a home based athlete when she jumped 6.83m at the AFN Golden League in Akure. She proved her feat in Akure was not by happenstance by jumping her way to the final in Rio. Enoch and Grace can do it.’
The AFN president advised the athletes not to get distracted by people who are bent on pulling them back.
”I will be in Tokyo when I am done with arrangements for the preparations of our young athletes for the World Juniors in Nairobi, Kenya. These are athletes that will become the fulcrum of our team at the next Olympics,” said the president who revealed the Secretary General of the AFN is already there with the Olympic athletes at their Kizarazu camp near Tokyo in Japan.
The track and field athletes will move into the Olympic Village on July 25, five days before the start of the athletics event.
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