Having endured a difficult 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Making of Champions (MoC) Grand Prix is back and better. The 3rd edition of the event which is the largest annual Athletics Competition in Nigeria aside the National Trials, will hold on the 2nd and 3rd of April 2021 at the Yabatech Sports Complex in Lagos, Nigeria.
Since the inaugural edition in 2018, the MoC Grand Prix has become one of the most important fixtures in the annual calendar of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), who is MoC’s Technical Partner for the event, ensuring that all races are timed electronically and all results ratified and recognized globally by World Athletics.
At a Media Parley organized by Making of Champions on Thursday to announce the return of the event, MoC Founder & CEO Bambo Akani said, “It’s good to be back. We’re very glad that the MoC Grand Prix can make a return for the third edition. Obviously, this was meant to happen in 2020 but because of the coronavirus pandemic, it wasn’t able to happen in May, then December, so we are really pleased that it can now return for Nigerian athletes and athletes everywhere in April 2021.”
“The MoC Grand Prix holds an added importance this year because it will serve as an Olympic-qualifying event and we’re looking very much forward to helping as many Nigerian athletes as possible qualify for the Olympics. We’re calling on corporate sponsors across Nigeria to join in this effort to support Nigeria’s Olympic hopes, especially in the midst of the coronavirus crisis,” he added.
Up to 30 Track & Field disciplines across the sprints, jumps, throws, hurdles and relays will be featured at the 3rd MoC Grand Prix, which is set to be the biggest and most important edition of the event to date, with the competition set to serve as a crucial Olympic Qualifier for Nigeria’s top athletes. The event will strictly observe the Sports Ministry’s Covid-19 Sports Code & Protocol and a final list of invited athletes will be released after an initial 1-month registration period for interested athletes has closed.
One of the highlights of the 3rd MoC Grand Prix will be the staging of the first Mixed 4x400m Olympic Qualification attempt considering that the Mixed 4x400m (with 2 men and 2 women per team) will be featured at the Olympics for the very first time in Tokyo. As such, athletes from other African countries will also be invited to compete at the event, particularly relay teams vying for qualification for the Tokyo Olympics in 6 months’ time.
With World Athletics Rankings being used for the first time to determine Olympic qualification, MoC Partnerships Manager Evans Emmanuel disclosed at the Media Parley that the 3rd MoC Grand Prix is part of an intended series of five Olympic qualifying competitions across Nigeria from March to June tagged the ‘MoC Athletics Challenge’, and that discussion with potential sponsors were already ongoing:
“Apart from few athletes globally who have already hit Olympic qualifying standards in their events, most Athletes worldwide will have to qualify through their World Rankings, which is an average of their five best performances in the last 12 months. For that reason, apart from the 3rd MoC Grand Prix, with the support of more sponsors we will be looking to put up another four events leading to the Olympics.”
“We have already had several positive discussions with prospective sponsors for the 3rd MoC Grand Prix – there has been a lot of interest in supporting Olympic-qualifying Events that will help Nigeria’s Athletes triumph over the global pandemic and propel the nation to our best Olympic showing since Atlanta ’96 – we are looking forward to unveiling these sponsors as they join our events in the coming weeks!”
About 400 athletes, including several National Champions and Commonwealth Games Medalists from Gold Coast 2018, attended the 1st MoC Grand Prix in 2018, with Sports Betting and Lottery company Baba Ijebu as the Lead Sponsor, awarding prize money to over 80 Athletes across 27 Track & Field disciplines.
The number of participants increased to 500 at the 2nd MoC Grand Prix in 2019, where 28 disciplines were featured and prize money was awarded to over 50 Athletes, with Nestle Pure Life serving as the Official Hydration Sponsor.