Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has promised to pick a strong team for the African Junior Athletics Championship in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire next month.
Trials for the African Junior Athletics Championship which involves Under 18 and Under 20 is set to commence from Thursday March 14 to 17 in Ilaro, Ogun State.
A total of 1271 entries have been received from all the States of the federation including the FCT. The athletes are expected to arrive Ilaro venue of the trials on Wednesday March 13.
AFN technical director Sunday Adeleye said they will ensure the best eligible athletes are picked during the trials.
“In Africa, Nigeria is very strong when it comes to the junior competitions and we want to go there with a very good team because it’s in Abidjan and very close to us so we will infuse more events than we were doing before now and we want to go there to keep our dominance alive,” said Adeleye
“Previously we went for events in the 100m, 200m, 400m and may be the 800m leaving out the long distance races like the 10,000m, 5000m. Right now we will be going into it as well as the Pole Vaults and other field events since Abidjan is very close to us so we are looking at featuring in all the events this time.”
About 17 athletes made the trip to the African Youth Games in Algiers, Algeria last year due to lack of funds. The former Nigerian sprinter said they may resort to road trip if funds are not readily available for the large contingent.
“Like in Algeria, we took just 17 athletes to the Games and that was because we had challenge of funds and you know all these things have to deal with funds. The distance from Nigeria is far so we didn’t have enough funds to take everyone down there.
“Travelling is also education so instead of us flying to Abidjan we may decide to use the road trip. I did that in 2002 as a junior athlete to Abidjan and we enjoyed it then we saw more states, countries etc. Going to Abidjan by road will be a 2 day-trip in which we will have some stop overs. For the junior athletes, is good experience to bond together and of course we have not concluded we are still looking at the two options depends on funds we have. And if we have to take everyone there for all the events then we might consider the road trip.”
Adeleye added, “We want to develop in other events and we want to discover more talents and we don’t want athletes for these events to feel left out but it all depends on whatever we have as our budget.”
A set date for the camping exercise will be announced immediately after the trials.