The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has guaranteed the country of more medals in field events than in its previous outings, when the 2023 African U-18 and U-20 Championships begin in Ndola, Zambia. The championship runs from April 28 to May 5.

The AFN held one-day national trials at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, on Tuesday, where 40 athletes were picked from a pool of 58, who reported to the camp.

AFN Technical Director, Samuel Onikeku, told The Guardian in a telephone chat that athletes picked at the trials did well, particularly, in the field events.

“The athletes performed well in the field events like long jump, high jump, triple jump, discus and javelin,” Onikeku said. “I’m optimistic Team Nigeria will pick many medals in the field events when hostilities begin in Zambia. Our sprinters also did well. We have picked 40 athletes for the trip,” he said.

According to him, all the athletes selected for both the U-18 and U-20 competitions were the best in their categories.

“These athletes will begin closed camping immediately to fine-tune their preparations for the championships. As expected in the closed camping, the athletes will have to go through different programmes, particularly, baton exchange and conditioning to put them in good shape.

“The decision to bring the athletes’ training camp to Asaba was to enable them get used to the modern facilities at the Stephen Keshi Stadium to enhance their performance, as well get as them used to the type of facilities they might meet in Ndola. I’m sure our athletes won’t give excuses when they get to Zambia because they are currently training with the best facilities in the country.”

Asked when Team Nigeria will depart for Zambia, the AFN Technical Director said: “I don’t really know, but I am sure our athletes and officials will be in Ndola before April 27.”

At the last edition of the championships in 2019, which held in Cote d’Ivoire, Team Nigeria finished third behind South Africa and Kenya.

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