Team Delta has vowed to continue its dominance of the National Youth Games (NYG), as athletes from all states of the federations prepare for the 2021 edition in Ilorin, Kwara state.
Team Delta won the fifth edition of the National Youth Games held in 2019 after garnering 104 medals. The 2019 edition victory meant that Delta had won all five editions of the game since its inception in 2013.
Some of the athletes and officials of Team Delta, who spoke with The Guardian, were optimistic that the state had the materials to dominate the sixth edition of the Games when hostilities begin in Ilorin on October 10.
Team Delta topped the medals table at the end of the south-south zonal elimination, which took place at the Stephen Keshi stadium, Asaba a few weeks ago.
To prepare the state athletes ahead of the challenges in Ilorin, the Delta Sports Commission headed by Tonobok Okowa, who is also the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), organised a mini trial for the athletics team three days ago.
The mini trial, according to the Director General of Delta Sports Commission, Chris Anaziah, is to ensure that the athletics squad surpasses its 2019 record.
“In 2019, our athletics team got eight gold medals out of 16. This time around, we want them to do better. We have to prove to others that Delta is the home of athletics in Nigeria. Thank God our Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, is so passionate about sports. He has been giving us all the support we need, and I am sure Team Delta will retain the title in Ilorin,” he stated.
Anaziah hinted that the state athletics team would begin close camping today, adding that other teams would join them later.
In 2019, Team Delta hauled 104 medals comprising 41 gold, 32 silver and 31 bronze medals to top the medals table, while Team Lagos placed second with 72 medals: 22 gold, 36 silver and 14 bronze medals. Bayelsa was third with 45 medals: 17 gold, 6 silver and 22 bronze medals, just as Akwa Ibom placed fourth on the table with 41 medals comprising 16 gold, 12 silver and 13 bronze medals. Edo placed 5th with 30 medals of 13 gold, 7 silver and 10 bronze medals.
The 2019 edition had 3,893 athletes drawn from 33 states and the FCT who competed in 34 sporting events. A total of 238 new athletes were discovered to be nurtured by the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports at the end of 2019 Games.