The Minister for Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare has lauded Nigeria’s 4x400m mixed relay team for their historic feat at the ongoing World Athletics U-20 Championship in Nairobi, Kenya.
The winning team, comprised of Johnson Nnamani, Imaobong Nse Uko, Opeyemi Oke, and Bamidele Ajayi, set a 3:19.70 African and Championship record to become the first winners of the event at the championship.
It was also Nigeria’s first medal in the championship which began on Wednesday in Kenya.
The delighted Sports Minister advised the athletics body to take the victory as a springboard in restoring the country’s past glory.
“I want to specially congratulate our U-20 team for making history in Nairobi. This gold is for all Nigerians and this should serve as the perfect start the new board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria needs to correct the ills of the immediate past and return Nigeria among the major athletics nations in the world,” he said.
The medal is also Nigeria’s first relay gold medal in the championship and Mr. Dare is optimistic that the dominance in “our area of strength” had just begun.
“I remember how dominant we were in the early years of the championship when we dominated the sprint and quarter-mile events. I still vividly recall how Tina Iheagwan, Falilat Ogunkoya, and Mary Onyali dominated the 100m and 200m events at the inaugural edition of the championship in Athens, Greece in 1986,” he further stated.
“I am calling on the AFN to ensure the athletes discovered here are monitored and given the necessary encouragement to make them follow in the footsteps of their predecessors like Ogunkoya, Onyali, Ese Brume, Chioma Ajunwa, and Blessing Okagbare who grew to become individual Olympic medallists for Nigeria.”
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