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Athletes lament absence at African Junior Championships

Idris Adesina

Nigeria athletes have lamented the country’s absence at the 2017 CAA African Junior Athletics Championships, which began on Thursday in Algeria.

The competition is taking place at the Lala Setti Athletics Stadium, Tlemcen, Algeria. It will end on July 2 with 36 countries competing for medals in over 16 men and women’s events.

Nigeria won the 12th edition of the junior competition in Ethiopia two years ago after winning 27 medals.

One of the athletes, who qualified for the championships, Aniekeme Alphonsus, said she was disappointed to miss the competition.

Alphonsus won three medals at the 2015 edition – gold in the girls 4x100m relay, silver in 100m and bronze in the 200m.

She said, “I was looking forward to creating records at the championships by winning the double in the 100m and 200m. It is so unfortunate that we are not going to be part of it as defending champions. We are going to be dethroned without even putting up a fight, it’s so bad. I am now looking forward to the national trials and see if I can qualify for the next Commonwealth Games.”

Another athlete, Orukpe Erayokan, said missing the competition would discourage some younger athletes.

“It is sad that the athletes missed the junior championships. They attended the trials and some of them qualified hoping to be there but they couldn’t. This may discourage some other athletes who are hoping to represent the country,” he said.

Secretary General of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, Amechi Akawo, when contacted by our correspondent declined comments on the country’s absence at the event.

“I have no comment on the question you asked,” he said.  He thereafter switched off his mobile phone and could not be reached for further comments.

This is the first time, since 2007, that the country would not have a team at the African Junior Championships.

The 2017 athletics season has been devoid of activities in the country following the dissolution of sports federations’ boards in April and the subsequent elections into the various boards on June 13. The new boards will be inaugurated by sports minister, Solomon Dalung, on July 10 in Abuja.

Nigeria could also miss out on the IAAF World U-18 Championships scheduled to hold in Nairobi, Kenya from July 12 to 16. The country missed out on the World U-18 Championships in Cali in 2015 after the AFN failed to secure transit visas for the athletes and officials.

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Source: The Punch

Athletes lament absence at African Junior Championships

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