Last week we found ourselves in Abuja for the National open trials in the run up to the All African games, coming up in August. I’m going to put it out there and say that despite the open trials’ quieter atmosphere, it has been my favourite competition experience so far. There were so many highlights of the competition for me. The first one is geared towards my bias for the city in which the games were held. I like Abuja, a lot. It’s green, spacious and quiet which gives it a completely different vibe to Lagos. I also have family there, so regardless of me being there on a working trip, it was nice to spend some time with my relatives, short and sweet.
Another highlight of the open trials for me, was the friendly yet competitive atmosphere set by the athletes present. It seemed like everyone really had their eyes set on the mark, qualifying for the All African games and there was a tangible buzz about the air that made that very clear. I was lucky enough to have a great viewing seat by the finish line too for most of the competition and I reckon that probably added to my perception of the event, including the build up, anticipation and excitement of observing the athletes fight tooth and nail for their place in the All African Games.
Also, following on from the success of our Grand Prix and the Physiotherapy booth the week before, I seem to have become a bit more acquainted with several athletes and coaches alike. I am getting better at putting names to faces and knowing who is who in the athletic community. It’s nice to have moved from finding my feet to feeling a bit more settled.
And lastly, of course what an amazing time it was, for athletes to show the fruits of their labour by setting new personal and season bests in their favoured events. It was heartening to receive thanks and gratitude from some of our athletes following the competition, for being part of the process. At training, we have this routine where any athlete that sets a PB or SB has to bring in a treat to celebrate their achievement so we can all celebrate with them and share in their joy. Looks like there will be lots of cake this coming week. My stomach is ready!