The President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Engineer, Ibrahim Shehu Gusau says the just concluded CAA Region II Championship held around the Sports Complex of the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria was highly competitive and well attended.
Gusau who also doubles as the Africa Athletics Region II President expressed contentment at the high level of healthy competition among athletes.
He said that all eight participating countries were all represented on the medals table which is a huge achievement for the region.
“I am very impressed and highly encouraged by participation of eight countries in this championship. Every country that came for this championship won a medal. It is not an issue where you have one country trying to take over the medal table. We witnessed a very competitive event.
“This should have been the best competition for Nigerian athletes to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games but they are in USA. Hopefully, there will be other opportunities for them to qualify. That is our prayer”, Gusau said.
As the tenure of the present AFN Board winds down and another election fixed for Kebbi on June 14, Gusau expressed satisfaction in the modest results the board was able to achieve.
“Our modest achievements are as a result of a strong policy direction of exposing young talents to quality competitions like the Region II that just ended. We have separated the administration of Athletics from the politics of the sport as our aim is to develop athletes and Athletics. We are however motivated by the homegrown athletes who strive for greatness.
“We have a policy and a drive. Going down memory lane, in 2019 when we went to Côte d’Ivoire for the junior championship, we took 115 athletes and we did not have money to fly them.
“We were trying to expose them to international events. Go and check the names of those athletes that were there, they are the ones now leading in athletics not only in Africa but also coming up gradually at the global level”, Gusau said.
The President stated that exposure of the athletes is of more importance to their development than the immediate podium finish because of the psychological breakthrough of appearing in an international competition which is a working plan.
Nigeria won the championship with 19 gold, 22 silver and 14 bronze medals while Burkina Faso came second with 15 gold, 6 silver and 7 bronze.
Senegal went home with 11 gold, 17 silver and 12 bronze medals in the third spot and Ghana finished with 4 gold medals.
The break down saw Nigeria winning 11 gold, 15 silver and 5 bronze medals to top the table in the Juniors category, Burkina Faso won 7 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals while Senegal came third with 5 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze medals
In Seniors, Burkina Faso topped with with 8 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze while Nigeria 6 gold, 15 silver and 5 bronze medals and Senegal finished with 5 gold, 9 silver and 8 bronze medals.
Nigeria, Niger, Sierra Leone, Benin Republic, Guinea Bissau, Ghana,Senegal, Burkina Faso took part in the two day regional competition.