For four days, Ilaro Stadium in Ogun State will be a hive of activity as young athletes from across the continent compete for tickets to the 2019 Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) U-18 (Youth) and U-20 (Junior) Championships in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The event will take place in April in the Ivorian capital.
Last year, Team Nigeria juniors travelled to Algeria with only 17 athletes (10 girls and 7 boys) for the competition, which was only for U-18 athletes, and came in second behind South Africa, which paraded 60 participants.
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has announced that the country will have a larger and stronger team this time in the hopes of displacing South Africa from first place.
Sunday Adeleye, AFN’s technical director, told The Guardian yesterday that the Abidjan team would be stronger than the one that paraded in Algeria last year.
Athletes are slated to arrive in Ilaro on March 13 for the qualifier, which will last four days, according to Adelaye.
Seigha Porbeni, a former Nigerian jumper, hurdler, and sprinter who led Team Nigeria to Algeria last year, told The Guardian yesterday that athletes who qualified from the Ilaro test would go into camp shortly before the big event in Abidjan.
Although Team Nigeria was unable to lead the medals table in Algeria last year, Porbeni, an all-rounder in his active days who competed in seven different sports, remarked that the athletes gave a decent account of themselves.
“We traveled to Algeria with 17 athletes, and 14 of them returned back with medals. South Africa sent 60 competitors to compete in almost every discipline. I’m confident that things will be different this time.”