Philip Shaibu

The deputy governor of Edo State, Phillip Shaibu, has urged the Judokas pencilled down for this year’s African Games in Morocco, to strive to win medals for Nigeria at the continental Games.

Mr Shaibu, at the closing ceremony of National Judo Open Trials for the Games, which held in Benin City, was represented by Godwin Dudu-Orumen, chairman of the Edo State Commission, according to Wole Opatola, media coordinator for the trials.

The judo tournament, which was sponsored by the Edo State Sports Commission in conjunction with Peculiar Ultimate Concerns Limited, doubled as trials to select judokas for the African Games.

More than 50 judokas representing the states in the federation, tertiary institutions, and clubs, participated in an intense competition spanning three days.

Frank Okiye, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Brown Ebewele, a former national decathlon champion and one-time Commissioner of sports in Edo State, Peter Nelson, Deputy Director of Sports at the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, officials of the Nigeria Judo Federation, and Felicia Egbasei, Acting Sports Director, University of Benin all witnessed the closing ceremony.

While encouraging the athletes to give their participation at the All Africa Games, their best shot, the Edo State deputy governor admonished them that competition should not be a do-or-die affair.

“You all have given us fantastic performances that will stay in our minds for a very long time to come and I wish the selected Judoka the very best at the All Africa Games”.

“The Olympic spirit is not all about winning, in fact, the focus and celebration is about participation.

“It has been our honour to host these trials. It has truly been our privilege to be touched and inspired by the courage and determination of our athletes,” Mr Shaibu said.

Also speaking at the event, Suleiman Musa, a 1995 All Africa Games Gold medallist, said the present crop of discovered Judokas need time to develop.

“I am happy with the athletes’ willingness and determination and I believe if given time and good preparation, they will do very well. The sports ministry should also increase our slots from four to eight weight categories as I believe we are capable of doing well at the games,” said Musa, who also represented Nigeria at the Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 Olympics Games.

The trials were declared closed by Honourable Okiye, Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, who, echoing the sentiments of the deputy governor, noted that the people of Edo State had been titillated by the spectacular performances of the judokas during the trial and wished them the best at the All Africa Games, which will hold in August this year in Rabat, Capital of Morocco.

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