By Salifu Usman, Abuja
The minister of youth and sports development, Mr Sunday Dare, has urged athletes seeking to represent Nigeria at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games to come for National Trials, warning that any athletes who failed to come for the Trials would not make Team Nigeria to the Olympics.
Dare gave the warning on Monday when he visited the athletes who have been training at the Moshood National Stadium in Abuja ahead of their departure for the USA on Thursday to participate in relay Qualifiers.
He described National Trials as a significant event where the best of Nigerian athletes assemble to be selected for an international meet.
“Don’t forget that we would have National Trials in June and everybody, both home-based and foreign-based must show up for our Trials. If you don’t show up, you’ll not make Team Nigeria to the Olympics.
“National Trials are very important and any athlete that does not come will not make Team Nigeria, that is how important National Trials is. Is almost the second to the final point in which we select our final list of athletes and after that is the African championship in Algiers. So, the National Trials are very important even before I became the Minister and every athlete knows that,” Dare said.
The Oyo State born politician-turned-sports administrator urged the critics to rise above noise and stay with the data and facts, saying there are a lot of excitements for Team Nigeria heading into the fast approaching Tokyo Games.
“Beyond the noise and if you rise above the noise to stay with the data and facts, there are a lot of excitements for Team Nigeria going into the Tokyo Olympics. If you also monitor the circuit, just yesterday, Tobi Amusan, who placed fifth a week or 10 days ago, hit her best form, she is second best in the world today. If you also follow Grace Nwkocha, who is a home-based and adopted, her records are amazing; Blessing Okagbare, I’m talking about both home-based and foreign based athletes, are doing wonderfully well.
“Also in wrestling, the number one in the world is a Nigerian in her category, another Nigerian is number two in the world and they have been maintaining that ranking consistently. If you look at the whole package, we have exciting prospects in wrestling, athletics (track and field), taekwondo and gymnastic. Look at badminton from being rated a 100 in the world and we are now 38th.
“So, you must stay with the data and not the noise. We are focusing on the data, matching the personal best time our athletes are running with those they would compete with at the highest level and the gap is not much. We are focusing on these details and that is what we need to do at this critical time.
“I think our athletes know how to rise above the noise. Those of us charged with the responsibilities of preparing them to represent Nigeria are focusing on the details and we have our eyes on the details.
Nigeria would be at the Olympics, God willing and I’m confident the athletes will bring on their very best and make Nigeria proud,” Dare added.