By Jude Atupulazi
The success recorded by the Anambra State contingent to the last National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara State, last month has been attributed to the adequate preparations given to the athletes by the state government.
Speaking to Fides while reviewing the games, the Chairman of Anambra State Sports Development Commission, Mr Tony Oli, said it was the state’s best performance in the history of the competition.
The Anambra contingent had won four gold, two silver and thirteen bronze medals to place 12th at the Games. The state also did well in combat sports, with three of the four gold medals coming from them.
And speaking with Fides, Oli said that for the first time the state’s contingent benefited from adequate camping in a serene environment at Bishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral and Conference Centre, Okpuno, Awka South LGA; a development, he said, allowed the athletes to concentrate maximally and shocked other states with their performance.
He also said the selections for the football events, male and female, were made easier by the Academicals competitions organized by the Sports Commission from which the best legs were discovered.
Oli disclosed that 26 members of the state’s contingent had already been invited by national team selectors, to report to the national camp and described this as proof of the quality of the state’s athletes.
On the next step, the Sports Commission chief said a data base of the contingent had been collected with a view to using it to not just monitor the progress of the athletes but to prepare for the future.
He disclosed that the state was already making preparations for the National Sports Festival coming up in Edo State in March next year and would build on the experiences gathered at the last Games in Ilorin.
He expressed appreciation to the state governor, Willie Obiano, for hosting the contingent just five days after their return and described this as an indication of the governor’s satisfaction with the performance of the contingent.
Oli said that with Awka Township Stadium soon to be built, the state’s athletes would be making use of the tartan tracks to be put there in order to improve on track and field events which he identified as one of the few weak areas of the contingent at the last Games.
This is even as he said the state would continue to build on her performances in combat sports in which her athletes performed well.
It will be recalled that Gov Obiano had splashed various cash rewards on the athletes during their reception recently, with gold medalists getting N200, 000; silver, N100, 000 and bronze, N75, 000.
According to Oli, who predicted a bright future for sports in the state, cash prises were also given to other participants, as well as to a son of the soil who won bronze in Morocco in an international competition.