It would seem that Nigerian Athletes have hit the proverbial and literal jackpot, following the confirmation that Sports Betting and Lottery company ‘Baba Ijebu‘ will now be the Main Sponsor of the first ever Making of Champions (MoC) Grand Prix & Relays, after the company stepped in to bankroll the competition now slated to hold from Tuesday 12th to Thursday 14th June at the Yaba College of Technology Sports Complex in Lagos!

According to MoC Founder/CEO Bambo Akani, the outfit reached an agreement with MoC on Tuesday, to be the main sponsor of the competition, which has now been extended to 3 days, to accommodate adding the 1st MoC Relays to the programme. Akani described the securing of a sponsor as an exciting development for Nigerian Athletics.

He said: “We announced and opened registration for the 1st MoC Grand Prix less than a week ago, and nearly 300 Athletes have confirmed for the competition in that short time, including several National Champions and Commonwealth Games Medallists. It really just shows how much Nigerian Athletes want and need to compete, and I believe that Baba Ijebu saw that need and decided to step in and put smiles on the faces of our Athletes. 

“With Baba Ijebu now the Main Sponsor, it means that we can add the highly demanded and exciting Relay Events to the programme and that the total prize money available at the event will now be in excess of one million two hundred thousand naira, which is the most Prize Money in an Athletics event in Nigeria since our Top Sprinter Championships in 2016!

“In all, this is a historic moment in Nigerian Athletics, and we’d like to thank Baba Ijebu for their support. This move begins to bring Nigeria in line with international trends. Baba Ijebu is one of the biggest lottery companies in Nigeria, and is now giving back to Nigerian Athletes, just as the UK’s National Lottery is the biggest sponsor for their Athletes!

“With our technical partnership with the AFN confirmed, the 1st MoC Grand Prix & Relays is now set to be ratified by the IAAF for our Athletes to qualify for international competitions!”

Going by this development, five Relay races have now been included in the MoC Grand Prix & Relays programme. As a result, the competition has now been extended to a third day, with the  1st MoC Relays bringing a close to the proceedings on Thursday 14th June.

A total of ₦500,000 in Prize Money will be up for grabs in the relays, which will include the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m. The fifth relay event, which is an innovative and exciting introduction by all standards, is the mixed 4x400m relay, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the 2017 IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas, with two male and two female athletes comprising the team of four.

The Mixed 4x400m will also be contested for the first time ever at the IAAF World Championships in Doha in 2019, and will also make its debut at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, so the 1st MoC Grand Prix & Relays gives Nigerian Athletes the perfect opportunity to start preparing to represent the nation in this new and exciting event!

For Athletes yet to register for the 1st MoC Grand Prix & Relays, you may do so via the online registration link. Do note that registration still closes tomorrow, Friday 8th June, and no further entries for the Grand Prix will be accepted after that date – do register NOW to avoid disappointment! Do also note that no Athlete will be allowed to compete in both the men’s or women’s 4x400m Relay and the Mixed 4x400m Relay (though either can be combined with the men’s or women’s 4x100m Relay)!

Here is also a reminder of the ₦700,000 Prize Money that is available across 22 Individual Events – let’s be thankful that Baba Ijebu is paying so that we can all play!

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. She has a bias for athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the National Sports Festival and the African Athletics Championships, and has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). Yemi holds a BA in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University .

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