FTER allowing South Africa and host Ethiopia to dominate proceedings on Day one of competition at the on-going Addis Ababa 2015 African Junior Athletics Championship, Team Nigeria rose to the occasion Friday, picking four gold medals to jump to the top of the medals table.
Two years ago, Nigerian junior athletes over came stiff challenges from South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia to top the medals table on the last day of competition in Mauritius.
Nigerian athletes painted Addis Ababa red Friday, with Commonwealth Games junior champion, Ese Brume, winning the triple jump gold medal with a leap of 13.16m. Brume had lost the triple jump gold to her challenger from Lesotho two years ago in Mauritius, a defeat she successfully avenged Friday. Team Nigeria is banking on her to win three more gold medals in the championship.
Also yesterday, one of Africa’s rising stars in the sprint, Divine Oduduru, overcame strong oppositions to win the boys 100m gold in a time of 10.44 seconds. On his way to the final, Oduduru, who rescued a silver medal for Nigeria at the 2014 IFFA World Junior Championship in Oregon, USA, ran 10.46 seconds in the semi.
The other Nigeria athlete in the boys’ 100m, Peka Victor, could not make it beyond the quarterfinal. He ran 11.00seconds to crash out.
In the girl’s 400m final, Adeloye Tosin rescued gold medal for Team Nigeria, just as Amusa Tobiloba dusted all competitors to pick the gold in the girls 100m hurdles.
But what might turn out to be embarrassing moment for President Goodluck Jonathan and indeed all Nigerians, is likely to occur in Team Nigeria’s camp, following alleged threat by the athletes to seat back in Addis Ababa in protest, if nothing is done to address the miserable situation currently prevailing in the camp due to poor finance.
One of the athletes who spoke with The Guardian yesterday shortly after his race alleged that they had not received any allowance since arrival in Ethiopia.
“We may have to seat back in protest if nothing is done to address the situation here. We won this championship in Mauritius two years ago and nobody looked at our direction despite the fact that the Presidency showered cash inceptives on Nigerian U-17 football players who came second in African U-17 in Morocco. We need money just like the footballer,” the athlete said.
It was learnt yesterday that the N20 million approved by the Sports Ministry for AFN to embark on the trip to Addis Ababa had not been paid.
Efforts to speak with AFN officials Friday were unsuccessful. The championship ends Sunday.