Nigerian athletes and coaches are set to begin the 2015 season on a good note with the 1st edition of the Coaches Challenge by the Track & Field Coaches Association of Nigeria (TAFCON), an off season competition slated to take centre stage at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on Friday, 12th December, 2014.
According to President of the Lagos Chapter of the association, two-time Olympian Enefiok Udo-Obong, the competition is to prepare athletes for the coming season and see how well coaches have fared during the build up phase for the 2015 athletics season.
Udo-Obong, a Sydney 2000 GOLD medallist and bronze medallistat the 2004 Olympics Games in Athens, disclosed that the competition is the coaches’ way of supporting and preparing Nigerian athletes for future success. He also stated that his vision is to ensure that the event becomes the official season opener for international competitions and an integral part of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) calendar.
He said, “We are giving young as well as elite athletes the opportunity to compete because many of them do not have a platform to do so. All athletes from the age of 16 are welcome. We also expect a great host of top Nigerian athletes competing such as last year’s 400m national champion, Noah Akwuand a host of others. The Technical Director of the AFN and the body as a whole are aware of what we are doing, so we expect that in no distant future, this competition will be featured on the AFN calendar.”
It was also revealed that the event had received support from the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Sports, Fitness Options Limited and MeCURE We Care who will provide the organizers with complete medical support during the competition.
Athletes are expected to feature in over distance events such as the 300m, 600m, 1 mile and the medley relay (200m, 200m, 400m and 800m). The walkers would compete over 3km, whilst the throwers would throw their overweight implements in an overhead fashion, with both the horizontal and vertical jumpers competing together in a novel multiple jump competition. Cash prizes and certificates will also be awarded to the top three winners in each event.
When Making of Champions exclusively caught up with Udo-Obongthis week, he revealed that he is beginning to make his own tracks to establish himself as a top coach in Nigeria. He currently has five athletes between the ages of 16 to 19 under his tutelage, as part of his NGO’s efforts with the African Sports Support and Education Trust, and disclosed that at least four of the athletes will be exposed to the Coaches Challenge, which is expected to be an eye-opener for them.
This new off-season competition is certainly a welcome development for Nigerian Athletes, and the organisers, TAFCAN Lagos Chapter led by Udo-Obong must be commended for their efforts in helping to support Track & Field in Nigeria. Watch out for Making of Champions exclusively report and photos from the event on Friday!