Onakoya, Amusan Inspire Young Athletes
No fewer than 128 athletes who took park in the second edition of the Abiola/Amusan Ijebu Sprints and Relays which was held last Friday and Saturday went home with spike shoes, which were donated by world record holder in the women’s 100m hurdles Tobi Amusan and former Nigerian sprinter Abiola Onakoya, as a way of propelling the careers of the up-and-coming athletes.
Onakoya and Amusan who are both from Ijebu-Ode organised the event as a way of inspiring the next generation of athletes and unlike the first edition which was limited to the state, the second edition permitted entries from other states in the country.
A total of 468 athletes converged on the Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium for the two-day meet which featured 100m, 400m, 4x100m as well as 4x400m relays. 34 secondary schools from Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Lagos states and the Federal Capital Territory, 25 clubs from across the country and eight tertiary institutions in Ogun State participated in both the open of the competition.
The running spike shoes were given to all the finalists in the secondary school 4×100m and 4×400m relays in both the girls and boys categories while cash prizes where given to the top three athletes in the open categories of the 100m and 400m among other prizes for the top tertiary institutions in both the 4×100m and 4×400m relays.
Onakoya who represented the country at junior and senior levels in the 400m, 4x100m and 4x400m relays events said he was fulfilled by the success story of the competition despite just holding the second edition, adding that the event which is jointly organised with Amusan will continue to push young athletes in the country for glory.
“Everyone was a winner. The highlight of this year’s event is to see no child continues to run barefooted, that’s why we provided spike shoes to every school that participated in the finals of both boys and girls 4x100m and 4x400m relays,” Onakoya told our correspondent.
“It’s amazing because this is how I started too. The then commissioner for Sports in Ogun State, Bukola Olopade gave me this kind of opportunity in 2007. We are building on what they did then, taking it a step further with the next generation of athletes.”
Three-time Diamond League winner, Amusan, whose presence on the closing day of the competition on Saturday gave the young athletes more motivation said the gesture is a privilege.
“I give God all the glory to be able to give back to the community, you know girl child in general. I am excited about what’s to come in the next couple of editions,” Amusan said.
At the gathering of up-and-coming athletics stars in the country, Nigerian Tulip International School, Abuja, dominated by winning three gold, two silver and one bronze medal just as Miracle Ezechukwu, from the school was the most valuable athlete with three gold medals.