The city of Warri was a sight to behold yesterday as far as track and field is concerned in Nigeria.
Many of those who had a hand in building the sport and raised it to the level that placed Nigeria in the world map were there.
A two day refresher course for technical officials who will officiate during the March 27 -31 Africa Youth Athletics Championships had brought them to Warri.
Commodore Matseye Nesiama, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Technical Director who is also a member of Local Organsing Committee for the AYAC 2013 is the facilitator of the event that will continue today.
Professor Lucas Ogunjimi, Alex Onyewenwa who are IAAF lecturers were there. And so were big names like Elias Gora, Rotimi Obajimi, Emelia Edet, Henry Amike, Tina Iheagwam, Jide Josiah, Akin Folarin, Mary Onyali, Gabriel Okon, Yusuf Ali, Solomon Agbari, Eric Mayuku, Ben Majekudumi, Beatrice Molokwu et al. They were more than 100. They gathered at the Warri Township Stadium for the course. Onyali is in charge of ceremonials for the event.
’’It’s an international championships and we are here to support Delta,’’ Henry Amike said with excitement.
’’We are here to get everybody up the stage,’’ Okon said. They were once the star athletes who gave Nigeria name before the plunge that Mary Onyali hopes events like the AYAC Warri 2013 will help the country recover from.
In her time, the stadium stood to watch a 100m final that had her and the likes of Iheagwam, Falilat Ogunkoay, Faith Idehen and Beatrice Utondu on the tracks. And for the men would be the likes of Chidi Imoh, Olapade Adenikan, the Ezinwa brothers, Gabriel Okon. Those were the days Nigeria challenged USA in track and field. They are a dream now.
’’I have been waiting and searching for the next Mary Onyalis, the next Chidi Imohs, the next Olapde Adenikans, Falilat Ogunkaya etc. I have not found them. But with events like this, we have a chance. It will take some time that the AFN has started and with help from the governor of Delta State (Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan) I think we will be there. We can’t thank the governor enough for what he is doing for sports not only in Delta but also for the country,’’ Onyali said. She was a product of youth development and the sports programmes in Delta State excite her.
’’We have an international championship here in Warri and what we are doing here is to prepare the officials and I can tell you that everybody is ready,’’ Professor Ogunjimi said.
Warri is hosting Africa and those who matter on the beat can’t wait for the show to start.