Imbibe Spirit Of Sportsmanship, Past Hero Charges Athletes

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A lecturer at the National Institute for Sports (NIS), Solomon Gan’nda, yesterday advised participants at the 18th National Sports Festival to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship.

Gan’nda, who won gold medals in the 400m and 4x400m for the defunct Gongola State at the 1979 festival, tagged “Oluyole Games’’ in Ibadan, said the event’s objective was to unite all Nigerians.

Gan’nda coached the Nigerian gold-winning 4x400m quartet to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

He is also saddled with the responsibility of designing the 42km marathon race for the festival.

Gan’nda told News Agency of Nigeria, NAN in Lagos that it was important for the athletes to see themselves as ambassadors of their states while competing.

“The National Sports Festival brings about unity and athlete’s interaction is eminent. They will need to relate in the spirit of friendship, while in the Games Villages.

“There has to be that spirit of fairness as they go about the Games; they should eat together and make friends with athletes from other states.

“It is that good bond in camp that really brings about a healthy competition and ultimately, a great sports festival one can always talk about.

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“Athletes should also refrain from using performance enhancing drugs and compete well, to the delight of their states,’’ he said.

Gan’nda, however, said that it was wrong for athletes to participate in the Games because of its material benefits.

According to him, the athlete’s primary focus should be to compete well for their states.

“During our time, we competed only for the love of the Games, but now we have heard about athletes looking to compete for states that can pay higher wages.

“This should not be so because it has brought about athletes’ defection from one state to the other.

“Because of this, the quality of athletes produced by each state is not truly ascertained,’’ he said.

Gan’nda said he was hopeful for a well-organised Games by Lagos State that should surpass the previous editions.

“With what I have seen, I am confident that Lagos will give the nation a well-oraganised event,’’ he added.

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