BY EJIKA OBUH in Asaba
Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari, Delta State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and the President of International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), Lord Sebastian Coe have urged athletes participating in 21st African Senior Athletics Championship, tagged Asaba 2018 to harness the event to build friendship that will consolidate peace and unity in Africa.
They spoke at the opening ceremony of the event in Asaba.
According to the President whose address was read by the Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Mr Solomon Dalung, “Sports has become a veritable vehicle for friendship and building relationship among African nation.
“If Africa must excel in sports, private bodies must be involved in the sponsorship of sports championship,” the President said and thanked Governor Okowa, the government and people of Delta State for hosting the championship on behalf of the country.
The President urged the governor to keep the flag flying as his good works were highly appreciated.
Okowa in a brief speech, thanked God that 52 African countries were in Asaba for the championship, stating, “I welcome all of you to Asaba and it is my prayer that you enjoy your 5-day stay. Championship of this nature is vital in building friendship.”
“It is a thing of joy that we have provided a befitting stadium for the championship, enjoy your stay in Asaba,” the governor asserted.
Lord Coe had commended Governor Okowa for providing a befitting venue for the championship, stating that the Stephen Keshi Stadium “is a legacy for generations to come.”
President of Confederation of African Athletics, Mr Hamad Malboum also, thanked Okowa for providing venue for the championship and urged athletes and officials participating in the events to respect the rules of the game.
First Gold medal was won yesterday at the championship by an Ethiopian, Jamal Mekonnen in the 10, 000 metres race.
Renowned musicians and fire works added colour to the opening ceremony which saw the 23, 000 capacity Stadium filled by spectators.