By Joy Odor
The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has hailed the outstanding achievements of the Team Nigeria at the just concluded World Athletics U20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
The SWAN President, Sir Honour Sirawoo in his tribute in a press statement commended the entire team for fussing into one unit and once again displayed to the world that Nigeria is made up of men and women with the resilient spirit to overcome challenges.
Sir Sirawoo noted that the feat in Nairobi has again proven that the country is still maintaining the tradition of generating hardworking and talented young people who are ready to be nurtured into world champions.
The SWAN President while giving kudos to the team which harvested a total of four gold and three bronze medals to finish overall third on the final medals table, also advised the sports administrators to always pay premium attention to the training and welfare of the athletes. A total of 114 countries participated in the championship.
However, he advised the Minister of Sports and all those who made the feat possible not to relent but to even increase their efforts in seeing that whatever that was done to adequately prepare the young athletes is extended to other Nigerian contingents going forward.
“We in SWAN while congratulating Minister Sunday Dare, will however charge him to ensure that these young heroes and heroines are supported, monitored and invested upon so as to serve as possible medalists at other international championships especially the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and the All Africa Games.
“To the federal government, we will urge that instead of the now famous presidential handshake, efforts should be made to give these young athletes scholarships in some of the world’s renowned Sports Universities and Institutes. This will enable them to acquire education while engaging in active sports”.
Sir Sirawoo also advised the nation’s contingent to the ongoing Paralympics to borrow a leaf from their compatriots who apart from making the country proud in Kenya also succeeded in writing their names in gold, by putting in their best to ensure that Nigeria makes podium appearances at the Games.
He reminded them that they should strive to at least equal the record they set at Rio 2016 in Brazil, where they emerged as the most successful Team Nigeria, which equally became the best African and 17th overall on the medal table with eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
Nigeria achieved her best ever outing at the U20 World Athletics Championship after finishing third behind the host nation Kenya and Finland.