Sport commission former DG expresses satisfaction over team Nigeria at Pyeongchang Games

By NewsDesk,

The  National Sports Commission former Director-General and Chef de Mission to 2018 Winter Olympics, Gbenga Elegbeleye, has expressed satisfaction on how  impressive performance of team Nigeria that made its debut in the Pyeongchang Games.

However,  Nigeria’s Bobsled and Skeleton teams participated in the Winter Olympics for the first time at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games in South Korea and trio of Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, at the event, took 20th position in women’s category.

Elegbeleye, described the performance of the athletes as great skills exhibition and that being among the 20 best in the world in bobsled and skeleton was amazing, considering how and when the girls started preparations for the Winter Olympic Games.

The former DG, who spoke from South Korea on Friday, noted that Jamaica started bobsled close to 30 years ago and that the country’s team were unable to finish the race in their debut participation.

“You can remember that Reggae legend and music icon, Bob Marley composed a record for the Jamaican bobsled team (cool running) then.

“The Nigerian girls did not only finish their four races, they recorded their personal bests in two of the races,’’ Elegbeleye said.

The former director-general of the National Sports Commission, added that the Nigerian athletes were the centre of attraction in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

“South Korea, the host of the Games with some of the world leaders and the IOC President, Thomas Bach, said the hoisting of Nigeria’s flag at the competition was a trailblazer.

“The Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, had a special session with the team. It shows Nigeria is a country of talents and achievers.

“I hope this will spur other young Nigerians to aspire for greater heights,’’ Elegbeleye said.

He stated that the participation of Nigeria in the games was also a good diplomatic feat and that sports participation was greatest tool for diplomacy in building world peace and global unity.

“It shows that sports are a unifying factor and certainly what politics is unable to achieve, sports will surely do.

“This is demonstrated by the Korean people as both the North and South Korea presented a joint team to the Games,’’ Elegbeleye said.

It was gathered that the athletes had at long last attained their goal at the Games, which is to raise awareness and possibilities of Nigerian and African participants at future Winter Olympics Games.

Nigerian Pyeongchang winter games team receive encouragement after step behind gold medalist

By SportDesk,

Behind gold medalist, Nigeria’s women’s bobsled team finished with the wooden spoon Wednesday but left with their heads held high after an emotional Olympic debut in the crackpot winter pursuit.

The team finished 20th in Pyeongchang, more than seven seconds behind gold medallists Germany in a sport where success and failure is measured in hundredths of a second.

 

But try telling that to Nigerian driver Seun Adigun and partner Ngozi Onwumere after a landmark appearance, cheered on by their families and a vocal pocket of Nigerian fans.

Adigun, after bumping off several walls in a ragged final run, said she was  amazing and as well overwhelmed with joy over idea of knowing that history was made after everything her team had to do ensure the goal was actualized.

“This was just one of those days that you can’t really describe,” she added. “Full of all kinds of emotions  full of relief, full of history.”

No African nation has won a winter medal but the Nigeria women plan to try again at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

“By God’s grace you will see Nigeria in Beijing,” said the Texas-based Adigun, after failing to improve on Tuesday’s personal best.

“We did everything we could. People are super-stoked back in Nigeria. We just pray all of our resilience does foster into some future athletes.”

Onwumere, who was a late replacement after Akuoma Omeoga fell ill overnight, added: “I can only express myself with tears, just because it’s been a long road and finally we’ve completed it. I can only imagine how it is back home in Nigeria.”

The Germans won gold after Mariama Jamanka steered her partner Lisa Buckwitz their country’s first success in the event since 2006.

There was a gulf in class between Nigeria and Jamaica and the top three of Germany, the United States and Canada. But it mattered little to the tailenders.

Thirty years after the Jamaican men’s bobsleigh team took the world by storm at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, it was the turn of a hardy trio of women from the tiny Caribbean island to launch launching themselves down an icy chute at breakneck speeds.

“Cool Runnings” the re-run ended Wednesday with Jamaica finishing 19th as they became the first women from their country to compete at the Winter Olympics.

“The brakes broke actually so that didn’t help on the way down,” revealed driver Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian.

“It wasn’t necessarily the result we were looking for but we’re pretty perseverant and resilient for a small island and we hope more of our islanders come out for winter sports.”

Russia on second doping case at Pyeongchang Winter Games

By NewsDesk, with Agency report,

The Pyeongchang Winter Games second doping case overshadowed another strong sporting performance from Norway on Monday with Russia again thrown into spotlight for negative reasons.

Norway’s Havard Lorentzen triumphed in speed skating, Norway won the large hill team ski-jumping, and Germany and Canada shared gold in the two-man bobsleigh but Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) medallist, Alexandr Krushelnitckii, been tested positive for meldonium would instead be the focus for the International Olympic Committee.

Krushelnitckii, who won bronze in mixed doubles curling last week with his wife, faces a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing which could affect his delegation’s chances of being able to march under the Russian flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday.

“If confirmed this will be taken into account (by the implementation panel) along with many, many other factors. There are several ifs along the way before we get there,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

The panel will report to the IOC executive board, which is set on Saturday to decide whether or not to lift the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee – imposed in December over doping practices in the country and at the Sochi 2014 Games.

If lifted, the 168 OAR athletes at the Games, who marched under the Olympic flag at the opening ceremony, could display the Russian flag and wear Russian uniforms at the closing ceremony.

Krushelnitckii is the second athlete to have a positive test announced in Pyeongchang after Japanese short track speed skater Kei Saito tested positive out-of-competition for the diuretic and masking agent acetazolamide.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands suffered a rare speed skating defeat in the men’s 500 metres which was won by Lorentzen. Ronald Mulder finished the top-ranked Dutchman in seventh.

“It’s time for Norway to step up on the top of the podium again,” Lorenzten said of his country’s first speed skating gold over any distance since 1998. “It feels so good to do that today.”

Germany’s Nico Walther and brakeman Christian Poser led going into the final runs of the two-man bob but faded to fourth as Canadian pilot Justin Kripps and Germany’s Francesco Friedrich ended in a dead heat.

There was also a split gold in 1998 and in 1968 Italy won gold alone on the basis of having a faster single run than West Germany following a cumulative tie.

Norway won the large hill ski-jumping team event to end the day atop the medal table with 11 golds, nine silver and eight bronze. Germany are second (10-6-4) and Canada are up to third (6-5-6).

In action elsewhere, the United States crushed Finland 5-0 in the semi-finals of the women’s ice hockey and will meet Canada, winners over OAR by the same score, in Thursday’s final.

The nations have met in four out of five women’s finals since the event was introduced in 1998.

Organizers also revealed 2,000 Olympic volunteers had not turned up to the Games and the number of norovirus cases has risen by eight to 283.

28 Russian athletics escape life ban over doping allegation

By SportDesk,

The  Court of Arbitration for Sport has lifted life bans imposed 28 Russian athletes and that could still take part in Winter Olympics which would be taking place Pyeongchang, South Korea, since they have been cleared off alleged doping case raised after 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

However, the sport’s top court ruled that there was insufficient evidence that the 28 athletes out of the 43 that sought the court’s help, had benefited from a system of state-sponsored doping at the last Winter Games, hosted by Russia in Sochi.

CAS said in its judgement: “In 28 cases, the evidence collected was found to be insufficient to establish that an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was committed by the athletes concerned.”

It added: “The evidence put forward by the IOC in relation to this matter did not have the same weight in each individual case.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said he was “very glad” about the ruling which fell just eight days before the 2018 Olympics begin.

The International Olympic Committee has banned Russia as a team from competing at Pyeongchang over the doping scandal, although 169 Russian athletes have been cleared to take part as neutrals.

The Olympic body reacted to the CAS verdict by warning in a statement that “not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation” to the Games.

Forty-two Russians — bobsleighers, cross-country skiers, competitors in the skeleton and ice hockey players — appealed against the bans at CAS.

Meanwhile CAS lifted the life bans of another 11 Russians, but barred them from competing at the Pyeongchang Olympics that start on February 9.

Among those whose life bans were scrapped is Alexander Legkov, 34, who won gold in Sochi in the 50-kilometre freestyle cross-country skiing event and silver in the 4×10 kilometre relay, only to have his results annulled over the doping allegations.

Recently,  extraordinary mass hearing of Russian athletes held less than three weeks before the Olympics begin forced CAS to temporarily move their compact headquarters in Lausanne to a large conference centre in Geneva.

The hearings at the world’s top sports court were as a result of allegations of a vast state-sponsored doping programme contained in the report into Sochi authored by sports law professor Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency.

His explosive findings laid out the workings of the programme,  from the use of secret state agents to passing urine samples out of testing labs through mouse holes.

But for Russian deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko, CAS’s rulings proved Moscow never orchestrated a state-sponsored doping programme.

“One can say that there wasn’t any system or any sort of manipulation at the Sochi Olympic Games, we’ve always said that but today the Court of Arbitration for Sport issued such a ruling,” said Mutko, who himself is appealing to CAS over his life ban.

He was banned after being singled out in McLaren’s report.

Many of the details about Russia’s alleged state-supported doping programme were first uncovered by a groundbreaking German investigation.

meanwhile, news of Thursday’s CAS verdict was warmly welcomed in Moscow.

“We are very glad for our athletes,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“The information about the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport proves that energetic work to stand up for our rights in court and elsewhere — it is justified, it can be effective and it should continue,” Peskov added.

“And we are hoping that this work will certainly continue.”

He said it was unclear whether the 28 who had their appeals upheld would now compete in South Korea.

“It is a difficult question,” the Kremlin spokesman added, noting Russian officials would continue talking to the International Olympic Committee.

Those Russians already cleared to take part in the Games will do so under the designation “Olympic Athlete from Russia”.

Sprinter, Mitchell-Blake, aims for individual honours

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

British sprinter, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, claims the feeling he gets on the podium is infectious and is gunning for more silverware after the most successful year of his rising career.

The 23-year-old sprinter went wild in delight after anchoring Great Britain’s 4x100m quartet to a sensational gold at the World Athletics Championships in London, in the summer of 2017.

The London born athlete, according to Eurosport, is bracing himself for a busy year, with the World Indoor Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships all coming up in the year 2018.

With his studies at Louisiana State University completed, the sprinter is fully focused on his athletics career as he looks to rack up more medals, with individual prizes top of his priorities.

“I really want to build on the success of 2017. I’m looking to get an individual medal on a global stage. The World Indoors, the Commonwealth Games and Europeans give me a chance to do that.

“At university I didn’t have much time mentally to think about it. When I was at the track, I was focused, but my main priority was graduating. Now my priority is having a successful career.

“I won medals, that’s how we’re judged in the sport. I’m 23 but why not try now and reach the top.

“People in the past have done it, not that I’m comparing myself to anybody else, but I believe it can be done.” he said.

Gatlin ‘shocked and surprised’ at doping allegations against coach

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

In the wake of series of doping allegations involving top sports personalities, sprinter Justin Gatlin says he is “shocked and surprised” at claims his coach offered to supply an undercover agent with performance enhancing drugs.

Reports from the Daily Nation alleged that Gatlin’s coach, Dennis Mitchell, and an athletics agent, Robert Wagner, had offered to supply banned drugs for an actor training for a film.

But in a short statement, the 100 metres world champion has denied any wrongdoing himself and confirmed earlier reports that Mitchell was no longer in his employ.

Gatlin stated: “I am not using and have not used PED’s. I was shocked and surprised to learn that my coach would have anything to do with even the appearance of these current accusations. I fired him as soon as I found out about this.”

“All legal options are on the table as I will not allow others to lie about me like this. I have no further comments as it is now a legal matter. They will next hear from my lawyer.”

Undercover reporters visited Gatlin’s Florida training camp and they claim Mitchell and Wagner offered to supply and administer testosterone and human growth hormone. They were also secretly recorded claiming that the use of banned drugs in athletics was still widespread.

Meanwhile, The United States Anti-Doping Agency and the Athletics Integrity Unit, the new body set up by athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF, to oversee all anti-doping matters in the sport, are investigating the allegations, as IAAF president, Lord Sebastian Coe, described the allegations as “extremely serious”.

Gatlin, who has twice served doping bans, beat Usain Bolt to claim gold in August 2017, and the 35-year-old’s victory was greeted by boos from the crowd at the London Stadium.

Rono, Masresha set for 2018 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Kenya’s Georgina Rono and Ethiopia’s Azalech Masresha are the latest to join the list of world-class marathoners that will compete for medals and cash prizes at the February 10, 2018, Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.

Rono, winner of the Eindhoven Marathon and other elite marathons, has a personal best of 2:24:33 hours. She finished third at the 2012 Boston Marathon, and also has a half marathon best of 1.07:58. Her husband, Daniel Koech, also a marathoner was one of the three pacers at the 2017 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.

Masresha from Ethiopia has a personal best of 1:09:46 in the half marathon and 2:25:34 in the full marathon, and she is hoping to improve on her performance at the previous edition of the athletics event.

Masresha who has moved to a warmer weather to be able to compete for the top prize in Lagos said, “I am happy that the 2018 race will start by 6.30am, this will give us the opportunity to finish before the weather becomes too hot. But irrespective of the organizers moving the race to 6.30am, I have moved my training to a city that has the same weather with Lagos. That way, the timing will be irrelevant since am already used to the Lagos weather.”

Bolt overwhelmed by statue of him

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Multiple Olympic and world champion, Usain Bolt, has described the unveiling of his statue in front of Kingston’s National Stadium as one of the greatest moments of his career.

 The statue, commissioned by the Jamaican government and revealed by Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, stands in front of the place where, 15 years ago, Bolt won the junior championships to announce himself to the world.
The statue was sculpted by Jamaican artist, Basil Watson, and features the 31-year-old in his trademark ‘lightning bolt’ pose, seen many times over the years, as he set world records in the 100 and 200 meters, winning 11 world and eight Olympic gold medals.

Bolt was stripped of one of his nine Olympic gold medals when his former 4×100 metres relay team mate, Nesta Carter, tested positive for taking performance enhancing substance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Carter has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the decision resulting from the doping test.

Bolt, the only sprinter to win the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4×100 metres relay titles at three consecutive Olympics in 2008, 2012, and 2016, did not lose sleep over the medal missing from his glittering collection after Carter was alleged to have doped.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Holness, described Bolt’s performance over the years as one that has elevated the status of Jamaican sport.

 

Chinese city to host 2020 World indoor Championship

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Following three technically high level presentations made by all three candidates biding to host the event, the Chinese city of Nanjing was awarded the hosting right of the 2020 International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF, World Indoor Championships.

Delegations from the three candidate cities made their presentations for the award of the hosting right, after the drawing of lots involving Nanjing (China), Belgrade (Serbia) and Torun (Poland).

Athletes of the past and present played a central role in the presentations. They included China’s reigning world shot-put champion, Gong Lijiao, Serbia’s reigning European outdoor and indoor long jump gold medalist, Ivana Spanovic, and Poland’s 2002 European Indoor 400m champion, Marek Plawgo.

Nanjing, a city of more than 8 million, staged the 2014 Olympic Youth Games and will build a stadium specifically for the world indoor championships in the Nanjing Youth Olympic Sports Park. It will offer a permanent legacy as an athletics training centre after the championships.

Europe to introduce mix gender games

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Ahead European Athletics Games second edition in 2019, the athletes organisation is poised to spearhead the charge for radical change in sport after organizers unveiled a mixed gender team competition for the games.

The new competition planned for introduction in Minsk, Belarus, called Dynamic New Athletics, DNA, would see Europe’s top 30 countries compete across 10 events in two hours, culminating in a staggered pursuit relay called the “Hunt”.

Each team comprising nine women, eight men and six reserves, will compete in a knockout format over five days before the quarter-final, semi-final and final rounds.

Teams will be awarded points ranging from 12 for first place to two for sixth place. And starting positions for the “Hunt”, which determines the overall winner, will depend on how many points a team has accumulated.

The 10 events have been selected because of their popularity with fans. Track competitions will include the men and women’s 100 metres, men’s 110m hurdles, women’s 100m hurdles and a mixed 4x400m relay.

Three field events including long jump, high jump (women), and javelin (men), have also been proposed, with a one-man and one-woman Miniathlon combined events, such as running, jumping and throwing.

The 2019 edition of the games holds from June 21 to 30.