Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa (left) Congratulating Jemal Mekonnen, winner of 10,000m race, at the Opening Ceremony of the 21st African Senior Athletics Championship Asaba 2018. PIX; JIBUNOR SAMUEL.
With the fiesta opening on a colour and an impressive note, Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and the President of International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), Lord Sebastian Coe have urged athletes participating in 21st African Senior Athletics Championship, tagged Asaba 2018 to harness the event to build a friendship that will consolidate peace and unity in Africa.
They spoke today Wednesday (01/08/18) at the opening ceremony of the African athletics fiesta in Asaba.
President Buhari, whose address was read by the Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Mr Solomon Dalung, said “Sports has become a veritable vehicle for friendship and building relationship among the African nation.
“If Africa must excel in sports, private bodies must be involved in the sponsorship of sports championship,” the President said and thanked Governor Okowa, the government and people of Delta State for hosting the championship on behalf of the country.
The President urged the governor to keep the flag flying as his good works were highly appreciated.
Governor Okowa in a brief speech thanked God that 52 African countries were in Asaba for the championship, stating, “I welcome all of you to Asaba and it is my prayer that you enjoy your five-day stay. Championship of this nature is vital in building a friendship.
“It is a thing of joy that we have provided a befitting stadium for the championship, enjoy your stay in Asaba,” the governor declared.
Lord Coe had commended Governor Okowa for providing a befitting venue for the championship, stating that the Stephen Keshi Stadium “is a legacy for generations to come.”
President of Confederation of African Athletics, Mr Hamad Malboum also, thanked Okowa for providing the venue for the championship and urged athletes and officials participating in the events to respect the rules of the game.
First Gold medal was won at the championship by an Ethiopian, Jamal Mekonnen in the 10, 000 metres race.
Renowned musicians and fire work added colour to the opening ceremony which saw the 23, 000 capacity Stadium filled by spectators.