19th June, 2012
About 348 international and local athletes are featuring in the Nigerian Athletics Championships, tagged Calabar 2012.
The championships, which hold from today through 21 June at the U.J. Esuene Sports Stadium in Calabar, Cross River State, will produce the athletes that would represent the country at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Championship is the 2nd to be held in Calabar following a five year agreement between the Cross River State government and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.
President of the Atheletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, Solomon Ogba said the Federation is committing the sum of N80m to prosecute the championships in paying prize money to the athletes, whose prize money has been increased from N1m to N2m for gold winners.
He said no money or place would be given to athletes who fail to perform to standard. “No grants or provision would be made to any athlete based on past record, but on current standard because we want our athletes to always be in top form as their international counterparts”, Ogba said.
He disclosed that the Delta State government has promised to pay the sum of £2,500 to any athlete who makes the Nigerian 2012 Olympic team, and called on the athletes to do their best as Nigerians would be expecting nothing but the best performance from the team that would represent the country in London.
He said Nigeria’s ratings in athletics in Africa has improved remarkably from the 10th position to number three in the last two years and if “those who are on the top don’t take their time, we shall go for the number one post.”
Already, Ajoke Odumosu, Peter Emegeze, Ogho Oghene Egwero and Gloria Asummu were part of the athletes who featured in some events when the championships started early today.
The 2012 championships, according to Patrick Ugbe, the Cross Riverv State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, would witness a remarkable improvement over the 2011 edition, as the state has taken delivery of the latest sporting equipment including a current timing for the games.
—Emman Una, Calabar