By Tony Ubani and Jacob Ajom
DEFENDING Champions of the National Sports Festival,Rivers State yesterday sent out warning signals to other states insisting that it would be difficult for them to be toppled from making a successful defence.
Sports-loving Governor, Honourable Rotimi Amaechi who witnessed the opening ceremony of Eko 2012 has ordered thatRiversStateshould win the Sports Festival back-to-back to show that their hosting and winning inPort Harcourtwas not a fluke.
‘’We’re the team to beat here. We’ve prepared so well and have the best welfare for our athletes’’, hard-working Information Commissioner, Ibim Semenitari said.
Also, Sports Commissioner Fred Igwe explained that Governor Amaechi made it clear that we must come back as Champions. ‘’We’re here to win but we have respect for all teams in the festival. But we have the competitive edge. We’ve have a strong team of 701 athletes who are buoyed by our hardwork and welfare package which is second to none to win again. We’ve a Governor who loves sports and demonstrates his love on their welfare. We’re Rivers. Those who want to topple us have many rivers to cross’’, the youthful Commissioner said.
The Director of Sports of Rivers State, Daobu Harry also said that they were well prepared to win and came with many buses to ferry their athletes to their competition venues. ‘’Since we came, we have been playing big brother to many states who did not come with vehicles. We convey their athletes and officials to the venues. We’re not selfish. If we are, we’ll not help them. We know our strength and like fair comeptition. We’ll win’’, he emphasised. When the Sports Commissioner, Hon Fred Igwe was asked to compare the opening ceremony ofLagoswith that of Rivers, he bluntly refused and said that the public were in a better position to judge. ‘’Lagosdid well. Their opening ceremony was impressive. But it is left for the public to judge’’, Igwe said.
Meanwhile, Rivers State continued its gold medal chase at the ongoing 18th National Sports Festival with its cyclists winning two yesterday in the 500 meters race held at the Eric Moore Road, Surulere.
In the men’s 500 metres race, Goodnews Edet, representingRiversStatewon the contest in a time of 35.82 seconds to win Gold.
Garba Aliyu, representing Oyo won the silver medal in a time of 36.29 secs while the losers final was won by Oyenobo Doe fromDeltaState.
In the women’s race, Tombrada Girikda representingRiversStatebreasted the tape ahead of Adejoke Durogbade ofOyoStatewho placed second.
The bronze medal was won by Esther Ginikanwa ofLagosState. Incidentally, Ganikanwa’s bronze thus became the first medal won by the host state.
States Gold Silver Bronze
Rivers 3 1 0
Oyo 1 2 0
Delta 0 0 2
Lagos 0 0 1
Kaduna 0 0 1
Others 0 0 0