8th July, 2011
Emmanuel Keku, a boxer from Bayelsa State, has won three gold medals for three different states at three different National Sports Festivals.
The boxer, who is representing Jigawa State at the ongoing festival in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, claimed that his state of birth, Bayelsa, has lots of boxing talents, a reason that made him to go back to Jigawa.
P.M. Sports learnt that the Ijaw boxer participated at the Gateway Games for the host state Ogun State, in 2008, and Kaduna State in KADA 2009.
The boxer said he decided to represent any state that was willing to pay his wages because boxing is his profession.
â€œI chose to represent these states at these different festivals because they could meet my financial obligations. Moreover, Bayelsa State, my own state, is endowed with lots of boxers,â€ he said.
Keku didnâ€™t even get to camp with his newly-adopted state, Jigawa, because he signed up one week before the festival commenced.
Meanwhile, Tony Ohaeri, Chief Press Secretary of the National Sports Commission and Main Organising Committee, MOC, said the festival is yet to take a strong stance that will deter athletes from representing more than one state.
He added that there is nothing wrong with an athlete participating for different states because itâ€™s in line with festival rules.
He, however, said that the use of online registration will curb athletes representing more than one state because the NSC will have the database. â€œThe aim of organising National Sports Festival is to bring youths together, discover talents and give them chance to display their gifts.
“We hope the online registration that was introduced will checkmate â€˜carpet crossing,â€ he said.
He said that the festival must be used as a means to discover young athletes and build the future of sports in Nigeria.
Findings by P.M.Sports showed that many of the athletes at the Games have either participated for more than one state at the last three festivals, or some of the athletes who are professionals in certain sports come back to compete for other sports.