Team Nigeria begins quest for medals as the 12th All Africa Games officially opens in Rabat, Morocco today.
The All African Games is a multi-sport contest aimed at advancing top-class African Sports and to foster cultural exchanges between the Member States of the African Union.
Over 7,000 athletes from all the 54 nations will gather in Rabat for the largest and most cherished sporting fiesta in the continent running from 19-31 August.
Team Nigeria finished second in the last edition of the Games in Congo Brazzaville in 2015and is poised to re-write history in Rabat this year.
Hosts Morocco is back at the Games after missing the last eight editions.The North Africans were banned from the Games by the African Union, following a long-standing territory dispute over Western Sahara.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation is presenting a total of 462 contingents made up of 308 athletes , including officials to the games.
Her records in the games since inception shows that Nigeria has attended 11 editions (it will be 12 this year), carted home in total 1199 medals. Team Nigeria has won 424 gold medals, 395 silver medals and 380 bronze medals.
For the first time in the history, the All Africa Games will act as Olympics qualification event in 17 sports, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, Olusade Adesola,while sending the athletes forth to Morocco had urged them to be disciplined and patriotic by shunning all acts of doping during the competition.
Team Nigeria will do battle with other giants like Egypt, Morocco and South Africa in 22 events already confirmed for the Games.
Without doubt, Team Nigeria has always been a force to reckon with in the games. At the last All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria won 47 gold, 55 silver and 42 bronze medals to place second behind Egypt who amassed 85 gold, 64 silver and 68 bronze medals to win the games.
Athletes will compete for medals across 26 sports, with eyes on leading stars like Olympic and Commonwealth medalist Blessing Okagbare, World and commonwealth rising star in wrestling Odunayo Adekuoroye .
Also watch out for returning African Games table tennis champions Olufunke Oshonaike , as well as American-born Uche Eke looking to win Nigeria’s first gymnastics medal.
There are also some rising stars seeking to leave their mark at the Games: 2018 Youth Olympics 100m champion Rosemary Chukwuma, and Sunmisola Balogun who became an African wrestling champion at just 16. The International University of Rabat will serve as the main athletes’ village hosting up to 4,000 athletes, with the rest staying in Casablanca.
Rabat will host men’s football, athletics, karate, taekwondo, judo, triathlon, volleyball (indoor and beach) and basketball 3×3.
In neighbouring Sale, there will be boxing and fencing.
In Kenitra, 50km from the main host city: women’s football.
Handball, swimming, cycling will be staged in Casablanca, while wrestling is scheduled to take place at El Jadida.
Rabat 2019, will see also the return of gymnastics on the Games programme after Brazzaville 2015.
It is therefore expected that at the 2019 All Africa Games in Morocco, the high morale in the camp of Team Nigeria will yield podium appearances that will hand Nigeria her second All African Games triumph.