Union Bank splashes N30 million on Team Nigeria as 5 athletes bag endorsement.  

There is a biblical saying of ‘Ask and it shall be given unto you’ and this is the story of Nigerian athletes at the moment. You would recall that this month, the Nigerian athletes have received massive attention on social media platforms over issues affecting them.

Divine Oduduru started the trend with the interview he granted reporters at The National trials in Sapele where the World Junior medalist called on corporate bodies to come to the aid of Nigerian athletes. US based athlete, Regina George also received attention just last week when she created a GoFundMe account to solicit for funds after she received a mail that she would have to pay her ticket to Rio for the Olympics. Many tongues went wagging as most people suggested that its uncalled for that athletes representing a country would have to pay their ticket. Though it was later resolved as the AFN Secretary General reassured the foreign based athletes of their ticket in a mail he sent over the weekend. 
Meanwhile Nigeria’s fastest man, Seye Ogunlewe took to his twitter handle to express his dismay and also plea to corporate bodies to come to Nigerian athletes rescue. 

It would interest you to know that these pleas have finally reached the ear’s of a sport loving bank. Union bank which is one of Nigeria’s oldest bank has stepped in to help resolve the situation. 

“We see sport as one of the areas of our corporate social responsibility. We are contributing our quota towards developing the skills of our athletes. We are not new in this venture; we are helping in boosting the moral of our athletes. In Nigeria we depend solely on the government and this ought not to be so.” 

We are going to ensure that Nigerian athletes in Rio are happy all through the Games,’ said Mrs Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaiden. 

She said that the 30million would be in two part as N25 million would be for the athletes while 5 million for the NOC’s logistics for the Games. 

Mrs Ogochukwu also listed the names of 5 Nigerian athletes who would be members of Team Union Bank. 

“They are Divine Oduduru(200m), Seye Ogunlewe(100m), Regina George(400m), Odunayo Adekuruoye (Wrestling) and Hannah Babalola(T54 100m).”

Regina George took to her Instagram page to thank the her new sponsor.  “Thank you Union Bank @unionbankng #TeamUnion” 

She also posted “Union Bank coming through for me! And making Nigeria stronger since 1917. Smarter banking, smarter life, smarter athletes”

The deal will last for a year and we only hope it would be renewed afterwards.   

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Rio Olympics:Ministry denies reports as Foreign based athletes are reassured of tickets. 

The news went viral on Friday, July 22nd when US based Nigerian athlete, Regina George created a GoFundMe page to solicit for funds to make her dream to the Olympics successful. This was welcomed by a lot of criticism as to why the athletes should fund themselves to the Olympics. 

The University of Arkansas graduate’s story became popular as she was ranked Number 1 on Nigeria’s trending list stated on her GoFundMe account that, 

‘This year it’s been hard financially for me but it wouldn’t have been possible without your support. I just been told that we will have to pay our own way to the Olympics this year . Sadly this is such short notice for me to come up with the money. They also promised a refund but I’m still waiting for many refunds promised in the past.’ 

Other athletes like Nnwaneka Okwelogu and Antwon Hicks were also found seeking funds on the platform. 

In a statement by the Sports Ministry, it denied giving such directive on Saturday.

The ministry in a statement signed by Nneka Ikem Anibeze, Special Assistant on Media To the Minister, Solomon Dalung, said that the ministry did not ask any foreign athlete to buy their ticket to Rio.

We did not write any mail asking athletes to pay their way to Rio,” Dalung said in the statement adding, “As the overseers of sports in the country, it is our duty to take care of all our athletes. The letter did not come from us and we will investigate the writer of that letter.
It does not represent our stand concerning the movement of athletes to Rio and the writer or anybody asking athletes to buy their tickets to Rio will be investigated. We ask Nigerians and athletes in particular to disregard the mail,” Dalung said.

Meanwhile, the AFN, has directed the athletes to discountenance the earlier directive following the public outcry.

AFN Secretary, Bamidele Olumide, in another memo on Saturday said that the directive has become imperative because the earlier memo was misconstrued by the athletes.
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Rio Olympics: Nigerian Athletes Cry for help 

Nigerian- Venezuelan athlete, Regina George just yesterday created a GoFundMe account to solicit for funds to get her in Rio. 

The athlete stated  ‘’I just been told that we will have to pay our own way to the Olympics this year. Sadly this is such short notice for me to come up with the money. They also promised a refund but I’m still waiting for many refunds promised in the past.’’

The track star who is fondly known as @DivaOnTheTrack on twitter will be making her second trip to the Olympics. With the first been London 2012 where she competed in the 400m. Regina George has now become a trend on twitter with reactions coming from people as to why she should fund herself to the Olympics.

‘’I been through a lot of obstacles this year and through it all I made my SECOND Olympic team. I don’t want to stop now after I earned a spot to represent my country in the Olympics. Any donation will help my situation’’ she said.

Regina switched nationality to Nigeria in 2012 fand prior to her change, she was on the USA team to the 2010 World Junior in Canada.
Since then she hasn’t looked back as she has represented Nigeria in multiple competitions including the 2013 Moscow World Championships and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. She was part of the team that won the Gold medal at the 2015 IAAF World Relays in Nassau andthe Silver medal at 2016 African Senior Championships.

Her goal is to reach $4,000 but as at press time she has gotten $3,604 which is quite impressive as the former 400m national champion only created the account yesterday.

To help regina go to https://www.gofundme.com/2fujh98

2016 National Champion and Record Holder in 110m hurdles also created an account on GoFundMe as his goal is to get $5,000. 

The athlete who made his second appearance at The All Nigeria Championships in Sapele a few weeks ago won the title in a blazing time of 13.27s automatically qualifying for the Olympics. The Mississippi University graduate will be hoping to make his debut appearance for his new country, Nigeria.
Hicks until 2014 was an American athlete who became the first USA hurdler to win the 110m hurdles at The World Junior Championships, he achieved this feat in 2002 in Keginston, Jamaica. He was twice NCAA Indoor champion in the 60m hurdles. He has a personal best of 13.09s

Hicks aim for setting up the account might initially not be to buy a ticket because here’s what he wrote;

‘’ I have finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian. This is a journey that I have been on for 12 years ever since my first Olympic trials in 2004. My wife and I have been funding my Olympic run this year but I have exhausted my funds while going around the world chasing the standard and I am seeking help from all of my supporters to help me finish my journey. I am in need of funding to cover training costs so I can be at my best to win a medal in Rio.’’

Well now his funds will now have to include a ticket to the Olympics in Rio and from his $5,000 goal As at the time of filing this report, he has only been able to raise $2,740.

To help hicks go to https://www.gofundme.com/antwonolympicfund

African Champion, Okwelogu Nwanneka, who has done so well for herself and for Nigeria this year with her best been winning a medal at The African Senior Championships in June. The athlete who specializes in throws has also followed the foot step of other Nigerian athlete as she created a GoFundMe account on Tuesday, 22nd of July after she received a message that she would have to fund herself.

 Okwelogu, 2016 discus gold medalist has launched a seven thousand dollar ($7,000) campaign to enable her participate at Rio Olympics.

To help Okwelogu go to   https://www.gofundme.com/2fxr42s

Nigeria fastest man, Seye Ogunlewe has also been active on social media especially twitter with his handle; @Seyeogunlewe and he has been ranting on the sudden development and also begging corporate bodies like Olympic Milk, GT Bank, First Bank, Skye Bank, Dangote, Glo amongst others to come to the aid of Nigerian athletes.

With less than 3 weeks to the commencement of the Olympics, Nigerian athletes have not found their feet. We only hope that things will get better one day.

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The U20 IAAF World Junior Championships might commence without the Nigerian team.  

Team NGR likely to miss men’s 100m and Women’s 400m at World Juniors. 

The U20 IAAF World Junior Championships which is set to begin today in Bydgoszcz, Poland might commence without the Nigerian team.  

The team which took off from the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport on Sunday, stopped over at Dubai but has now missed their connecting flight from Dubia to Poland. 

Arowolo Emmanuel is listed in heat 3 of the men’s 100m and he is expected to go against USA’s Noah Lyles who has a Season’s Best of 10.16s. National Junior Champ, Raymond Ekevwo would be in heat 6 and is meant to be on lane 2. Jamaica’s Raheem Chambers (10.25s) is the man to watch out for in that heat. 

Meanwhile, Praise Idamadudu is expected to compete in the 400m women’s event in the afternoon session and she is drawn up in lane 2 on heat 4 while Outstanding Athlete at ECOWAS Games, Ajayi Yinka who is not on the team is listed to compete in heat 6 where she is the favourite with her time of 52.27s.  

For Day 2, the women’s 100m would take place as National Junior Champ, Aniekeme Alphonsus and Mercy Ntia-Obong is expected to compete. Also tomorrow, the Women’s 400m semifinal, 100m Men semifinal and final would take place.

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Okagbare post Season’s Best to win at Istvan as Mozia Stephen sets new National Record in Spain

7 time National champion, Blessing Okagbare who started the 2016 outdoor season with a time of 11.11s has now broken into the 10secs barrier to show her readiness towards the Olympics. 

The Commonwealth champion, won the women’s 100m at the 2016 Istvan Gyulai Memorial meet, Budapest in a Stadium’s record of 10.92s. Ivory Coast’s Mari-Josee Ta Lou in 2nd (10.95s) whille Tianna Bartoletta was 3rd (11.02s). 

With her time she is now ranked 7th on the World list alongside English Gardner of USA. You would recall that the sprint sensation just two weeks ago won the National trials in a time of 11.02s bettering her 11.09s from the IAAF World Challenge in Madrid. This shows that she is really sharping up for the Olympics. 
Nigeria’s Olivia Ekpone finished 7th in the women’s 200m which was won by Veronica Campbell-Brown in 22.52s. Okagbare also competed in the Women’s Long Jump where she finished 5th with a jump of 6.34m.

Meanwhile, as Okagbare made Nigeria proud in the Hungrary today, Stephen Mozia was in Andujar Jaen, Spain over the weekend flying the country’s colours. Mozia threw a distance of 20.82m to win the Men’s Shot Put event at The Andujar Athletics Meet which erases the former record of 20.75m which he set in May, 2016. This is an improvement that could launch him into the final at the Rio Olympic Games. The athlete is currently ranked 18th in the World this year.

The Cornell University graduate also holds the national indoor title with a distance of 21.11m which he set in 2016. He also competes in the Discus event where he has a Personal Best of 62.80m. At the 2016 African Championships, Mozia finished third in both shot put and discuss. 

The athletes are also listed for the Olympics in Rio de Janerio, Brazil as they have hit the standards for their different disciplines. 

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AFN list 15 man squad for World Junior Championship as other athletes express dismay

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has released the names of athletes that would represent the country at The IAAF U20 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland from the 19th to 24th of July.

The federation has decided to take only a few athletes for the competition because of lack of funds though a hand full of junior athletes have qualified.
The athletes are;

100m Women: Aniekeme Alphonsus and Mercy Ntia-Obong

100m Men: Raymond Ekvewo, Godwin Ashien, Abiola Soyemi and Adegoke Enoch

200m Women: Praise Idamadudu and Mercy Ntia-Obong

200m Men: Abiola Soyemi and Chukwudi Olisakwe

100m Hurdles: Amusan Tobiloba and Njoku Chinyere

110m Hurdles: Bashiru Abdullahi

400m Hurdles Men: Timothy Emoghene

4x100m Women: Aniekeme Alphonsus, Mercy Ntia-Obong, Bisiolu 
Haisah and Amusan Tobiloba while Blessing Adierekwa is on reserve.

4x100m Men: Raymond Ekvewo, Godwin Ashien, Adegoke Enoch and Abiola Soyemi. Arowolo Emmanuel and Chukwudi Olisakwe are on reserve.
Here’s also a list of athletes who made the standard but are sadly not on the team.

Ajayi Yinka- 400m Women (52.27s)

Omovo Knowledge- 400m Women (55.02s)

Edoki Fabian- Long Jump Men (8.02m)

Kelechi Nwanaga- Javelin Women (53.56m)

Fatoyinbo Sunday- 400m Men (47.26s)

Samson Nathaniel- 400m Men (46.81s)

Alabi Aminat- 800m Women- (2:09.16s).

An athlete who spoke to ‘Athletic Heat’ said,

 ‘’ I worked for it and I worked hard to make the standard since that was the criteria for me to go but  I wasn’t picked. If they cannot encourage me when I am young, when will they encourage me? When I give up? Even with injury I tried to make the standard, yet I am not going.’’

Another aggrieved athlete said,

‘’After placing at the trails of no money, no transport, nothing! And nobody said anything. I made the standard with the hope of bettering myself when I get there but I am out of the team. God knows best.’’

We only hope that one day things would get better!

 The athletes would be accompanied to the competition by;

Coach Abiodun Adeyemi

Coach Daniel Etse

Coach Gad Onomegu

Isaac Godwin- Physio

James Eakyn- Secretary

Seigha Porbeni- Co-ordinator

They team is expected to depart Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja tomorrow. We wish them the very best.

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Athletes turn up to honour Nkem Ezealah. 

The sports complex of The Yaba College of Technology was beehive with activities as athletes turned up to participate in the maiden Nkem Martha Ezealah Memorial Athletics Meet in honour of the late track star who passed unto eternal glory on March 15, 2016 and today makes it 4 months since she left this world. 

According to the organisers, the event is going to be a yearly activity and it would take place a week after The All Nigeria Championship. 
The event kicked off with the men’s 200m which had four heats. Chidera Peter of Team Blessed took heat 1 in a time of 22.10s. Adeyemi Ebunoluwa finished 2nd in 22.32s while Babatunde Emola of Esteem Club was 3rd with a time of 23.09s. 

MoC’s Peter Edwin won heat 2 with a time of 22.32s. Christian Martins was in 2nd place (23.17s) while Olanipekun Abraham finished 3rd in 23.35s. 

Abejoye Oyeniyi ran 22.30s to win heat 3 while Nnorom David finished in 2nd with 22.60s, Ahkigbe Chinedu was 3rd in 22.61s. 

MoC’s Eseroghene Oguma won heat 4 with a Personal Best of 21.79s. The fastest by any athlete in the heat. Emmanuel Oyinloye was 2nd in 21.83s while Sanni Mohammed was 3rd in 22.28s. 

Making of Champions, Udo Joy won heat 1 of the women’s 100m with 11.71s. ECOWAS relay Gold medalist, Lawal Rashidat was in 2nd with 11.83s while Omotsho Raimot of Esteem Club finished 3rd in 12.94s. 

Eaglesight’s Blessing Ogundiran won heat 2 with a Personal Best of 11.27s. Esteem’s Ruth Usoro finished 2nd in 11.40s while Thomas Goodness was in 3rd place with 11.73s. 
Usoro then changed to her jumping spikes as she leaped a distance of 5.87m to win the women’s Long Jump. Omoshola Omolayo was in 2nd with 5.30m while Akuna Vivian was 3rd in 5.01m. 

The favourite in the 200m men’s final, Eseroghene Oguma who had the fastest time coming into the final, couldn’t finish the race as the youngster cut muscle pull. The race was won by Abejoye Oyeniyi with a time of 21.40s. Chidera Peter finished second in 21.70s while Peter Edwin was third in 21.78s. 

Ruth Usoro made it a double victory as she won the 100m Women’s final in a new Personal Best of 11.30s bettering her 11.40s in the heat. Udo Joy was second with 11.32s while Blessing Ogundiran finished place in 11.34s.  
Winners of the triple jump (men) where Adekunle Ali of Mega Rock 13.58m 1st, Godwin Monday of Eagle Sight 13.56m 2nd, Abejoye Oyeniyi Eagle Sight 13.47m 3rd

The finalist in each event were given prize money ranging from #7,000 – #1,000.  

The next edition will take take place at this same venue next year.

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