10 Nigerian Athletes Banned From 2020 Tokyo Olympics

(FILE) Performers assemble the Olympic Rings during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Dylan MARTINEZ / POOL / AFP)

 

Ten Nigerian athletes have been declared ineligible to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Wednesday.

AIU, an independent body created by World Athletics to manages all integrity issues – both doping and non-doping, noted that eight athletes from other countries were also declared ineligible while two others were replaced prior to the submission of their entries to World Athletics.

It explained that the affected athletes, who represented some ‘Category A’ Federations, were disqualified from the final entries for the Olympics for failing to meet the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15 of the Anti-Doping Rules.

This comes in spite of the improvements in the domestic testing programmes in various countries.

Part of the statement read, “Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.

“Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.

“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must undergo at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than three weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event.

“Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.”

AIU listed the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations to include Nigeria, Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

It noted that ahead of the games, the ‘Category A’ Federations, working with their respective National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs), made significant progress with respect to their domestic testing programmes.

Nigeria was listed in ‘Category A’ at the start of 2020 after a continued period of weak domestic testing levels.

Thousands Attend LA Memorial For Kobe Bryant, Daughter

People arrive to attend the “Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” service at Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles on February 24, 2020. – Kobe Bryant, 41, and 13-year-old Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in the rugged hills west of Los Angeles on January 26. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

 

Thousands of celebrities, athletes, family members and fans poured into the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday to honor basketball great Kobe Bryant, who died last month in a helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

The public memorial — dubbed “A Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna Bryant” — is being held in the arena where Bryant wowed fans for nearly two decades while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 2/24 date for the memorial carries special significance as it coincides with Bryant’s jersey number — “24” — and Gianna’s “2” jersey number.

Fellow Laker legend Magic Johnson was among those attending the memorial, which is taking place just hours after the Lakers 114-112 win over the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on Sunday.

“It’s hard in a two-minute, five-minute time to say everything he meant to the world, to the NBA and to basketball fans. He’s bigger than life,” Johnson said ahead of the game on Sunday. “And it will take years to get over his passing and his daughter and the seven other people who lost their lives as well.”

Among other celebrities attending were filmmaker Spike Lee — who was close friends with Bryant and directed a documentary on his life — and rapper Snoop Dogg, an avid Lakers fan.

Many of the fans lucky enough to nab one of the much-sought after 20,000 tickets for the memorial wore the gold and purple colors of the Lakers as they headed for the two-and-a-half hour ceremony scheduled to start at 10 am (1800 GMT) amid tight security.

“Kobe meant everything for this city, for this team and for me,” said Karen Sanchez, 41, as she waited with friends to enter the arena. “I watched him play from the beginning.”

Marcos Rojas, 23, another ticketholder, said Bryant’s January 26 death near Los Angeles had been devastating to fans like him who worshipped the player.

“For me, it was like losing a friend,” said Rojas who wore a Lakers jersey with Kobe’s number.

“I always watched him playing with my friends,” he told AFP. “I always picked Kobe to play in my video games. I couldn’t leave home the day of his passing.”

Those attending the memorial were being given a 24-page program with pictures of Bryant and his family as well as a pin and black T-shirt featuring images of Kobe and his daughter on the back.

Some of the fans paid up to $224 a ticket.

AFP

Israel Slams Malaysia For Banning Its Athletes

Malaysia PM, Mahathir Mohamad. Credit: @ShehabAgencyEn

 

Israel on Thursday accused Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad of “rabid anti-Semitism” after he said his country would not host any more sports events involving competitors from the Jewish state.

Last week Mohamad said Israeli swimmers would not be allowed into Malaysia — a Muslim majority country — for a tournament later this year that serves as a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Wednesday insisted the country would “not host events” that have Israeli participation.

“It is about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,” he added.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon hit back at the “shameful” decision to bar athletes from the country and said the move “totally opposes the Olympic spirit”.

“Israel condemns the decision inspired no doubt by Malaysia’s PM Mahathir’s rabid anti-Semitism,” he said.

“We call upon the International Paralympic Committee to change this wrong decision or change the venue of the event.”

Kuala Lumpur has rejected pleas from the world sporting body to find a solution to the row.

Malaysia is one of several predominantly Muslim states that have no formal diplomatic ties with Israel. Entry to the country on an Israeli passport is forbidden.

The Palestinian cause has widespread support in Malaysia, as thousands took to the streets in protest when US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Israel occupied Arab east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, declaring the entire city its “eternal and indivisible capital”, but Palestinians claim the eastern part as the capital of their own future state.

Malaysia has stopped Israeli athletes from competing in a sports event before. Two Israeli windsurfers had to pull out of competition on the island of Langkawi after they were refused visas in 2015.

Kuala Lumpur also refused to host a conference for world football’s governing body FIFA in 2017 as an Israeli delegation was due to attend.

Mahathir, now 93 and in his second stint as premier, has in the past attracted criticism for his verbal attacks on Jews, including calling them “hook-nosed”.

The previous government allowed a high-level Israeli delegation to attend a UN conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2018, sparking public anger.

AFP

Olympic Hockey Champ Warns Of Mental Pressures For Elite Athletes

In this file photo taken on August 15, 2016 Britain’s Helen Richardson-Walsh (C) celebrates a goal during the women’s quarterfinal field hockey Britain vs Spain match of the Rio 2016 Olympics Games at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Rio de Janeiro.
Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

 

British hockey star Helen Richardson-Walsh — who battled back from depression to win an Olympic gold medal in Rio — says young athletes need help to manage the pressures that come with top-level sport.

Richardson-Walsh, 36, said young, ambitious elite sportsmen and women may be unaware of the incessant and challenging demands they will face.
“Transition into sport is equally if not more important than making transition out,” she told a panel in London discussing athletes and their mental health.

“Young people coming now into professional sports is difficult. You go from being someone enjoying sport and doing it because you love it to suddenly being in this environment with the pressure and expectations.”

Richardson-Walsh, who became the youngest woman to represent Britain in hockey at an Olympics at the age of 18, says it is almost impossible to switch off.

“When I woke up in the morning I had to put a heart monitor on my finger before I had breakfast,” she said.

“It told me how many hours I had slept. For breakfast the question was ‘what am I going to eat?’ not ‘what do I want to eat?’.

“The young may want so much to think about being an athlete but it is 24/7, you don’t go to get home at five, job done. You have to think about everything you have to do. Transitioning into that is a big thing.”

Richardson-Walsh, who has competed at four Olympics, has struggled with bouts of depression and wrote a blog documenting her struggles in 2014.

‘Tools’

The hockey player, who was helped by her wife Kate, also a team-mate, says she has even questioned part of the legacy of the Olympic success.

“After Rio and London I visited schools and lots of young girls who suddenly wanted to be a hockey player,” she said.

“Initially I thought for them that is great as it is a pathway to a potential career opportunity but then on the other side I thought ‘ah, actually is that a good thing?’. How early do you decide you want to do that?”

Shameema Yousuf, who works as a psychologist for young players at Premier League side Brighton, says it is important to reach aspiring elite athletes as early as possible.

“I think that is key if we give youth the tools and build their awareness up at that age,” said Yousuf, referring to the 10-16 age group at the club.

“Then they are better able to identify and manage themselves at an older age in an environment where stresses will be different at competition level.

“However, they will have that self-awareness of ‘I am actually going through something and need to go and speak to someone’.”

Richard Bryan, rugby director for the Rugby Players’ Association, with responsibility for welfare services and programmes, says he has observed an interesting change in players coming forward to admit they are battling with mental health issues.

“There is a possible start of a trend among the players who are accessing our confidential hotline,” he said.

“The largest age group last year was 18-25 whereas a couple of years previously it was the over-30s.

“It will be interesting to see if that continues for it suggests those that are coming into the professional system, perhaps work is being done through schools or it is a generational difference and people are more open to talking about issues they are facing.”

Rio 2016: Buhari Commends Nigeria’s Paralympic Team

Paralympics-Team-NigeriaPresident Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Team Nigeria for an outstanding performance at the Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

President Buhari commended the athletes for doing the country proud by winning 12 medals and setting new records, which made them the top-performing African team at the 2016 Games.

The President acknowledged the resilient spirit of the Nigerian Paralympic athletes, who were able to excel in the face of adversity.

He applauded the athletes for their tenacity, focus and determination, which has brought glory to the country.

The President also expressed gratitude to all the officials and trainers of the Paralympic athletes, who made sacrifices and persevered to fly the country’s colours.

Hundreds of Nigerians turned out at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja to welcome the first batch of Rio 2016 Paralympics athletes who returned to Nigeria on Sunday.

Investigators Hunt For Clues In Boston Marathon Bombing

Investigators on Tuesday searched for the person or group responsible for planting two bombs at the Boston Marathon finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 100 in the worst bomb attack on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation led a battery of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on the case, while critically wounded victims of Monday’s blasts fought for their lives and others contemplated a new life as amputees.

The bombs ripped through the crowd at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, shattering the annual civic celebration on the Patriots’ Day state holiday while tens of thousands of people packed the street to cheer on the runners.

The two devices using gunpowder as the explosive were packed with ball bearings and other shrapnel to maximize injuries, said a senior law enforcement official briefed on the investigation who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.

No one has been arrested in the bombing. A White House official said the case would be treated as an act of terrorism but it had yet to be determined whether the attack came from a foreign or domestic source.

President Barack Obama promised to catch whoever was responsible.

“It is a criminal investigation that is a potential terrorist investigation,” said Richard DesLauriers, the FBI special agent in charge for Boston.

Many runners were heading for the finish when a fireball and smoke rose from behind cheering spectators and a row of flags representing the countries of participants, video from the scene showed.

The two explosions came moments apart some four hours and nine minutes into the race, long after the world-class runners had finished but around the time average contestants were arriving.

‘A LOT OF BLOOD’

“I saw people who looked like they had their legs blown off. There was a lot of blood over their legs. Then people were being pushed in wheelchairs,” said Joe Anderson, 33, a fisherman from Pembroke, Massachusetts, who had just run the race holding a large U.S. flag.

Many of the victims were gravely injured, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said.

Some suffered shrapnel wounds and amputations and will require repeat operations in the coming days, said Peter Fagenholz, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctors treated 29 patients including eight who were in critical condition, Fagenholz said.

Many of the seriously injured patients had suffered bone, soft tissue and vascular damage to their legs, he said.

“We’re seeing a lot of shrapnel injuries” from small metal debris, Fagenholz told reporters outside the hospital.

There had been “several” amputations, he said.

“A number of patients will require repeat operations tomorrow and serial operations over the next couple of days,” Fagenholz said.

The dead included an 8-year-old boy, the Boston Globe reported, citing two law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.

A 2-year-old with a head injury was being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital, the hospital said in a statement.

The blasts put police on alert in major cities across the United States, including in Washington, D.C., and New York City, sites of the September 11 attacks.

The annual Boston Marathon, held since 1897, attracts an estimated half-million spectators and some 20,000 participants every year.

EKO 2012:Lagos will achieve less in track and field events –Analyst

A sports analyst and former board member of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria has commented on the performance of Lagos state; the host of the 18th Sports Festival in the track and field events that it would not achieve much in terms clinching medals.

Adeyemi Philips who lectures Physical and Health Education at the University of Lagos said Delta, Edo and River states respectively possess more advantage than the host the track and field events of the National Sports Festival tagged Eko 2012 because they have top quality athletes which the host do not possess.

“Delta, Edo, and Rivers are the top contenders for the athletics medals, they have top quality athletes. Lagos will find it hard during the competition,”

It can be said now that this claim by the Philips has encompassed performances by the host in the festival as Delta and Rivers states drowned Lagos state on the medals table and as of yesterday Delta was leading the table 10 gold medals, while River is following closely with 8 and Lagos coming third on the table.

He said the whole essence of the Sports festival is for the common goal of the country looking at the development of sports in Nigeria which has recently nose-dived judging by the performance of the country’s sportsmen in world stage.

“The overriding joy will be how many fresh talents we can discover and then be groomed to become world stars.

“This thing about athletes moving from one state to the other when it is time for the sports festival should be a thing of the past. What we want to see are States presenting young and enterprising athletes.

This is the only way Nigeria can produce quality athletes at the international level, the sports festival should be a breeding ground.

I expect at least 36 medals in next Olympics – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has raised the bar of performance in sports ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil as he charged Nigerian Athletes to bring home with 36 medals which must include at least five gold medals.

Also present at the retreat which took place on Monday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja was Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.

Others were members of the Federal Executive Council, sports administrators, security chiefs, captains of industries among others.

The president charged the state governors to look into areas of advantage so as to contribute one athlete in their own chosen advantageous area who will be amongst the Team Nigeria 2016 contingent.

Mr Jonathan said: “Every state has some level of comparative advantage in one form of sports or the order and if every state will promise Nigerians that we will give you a medal in this area and another medal in this area that means we are expecting 36 medals.

“Out of these 36 medals, at least five will be gold. I also believe that the private sector will play a key role. We know that in some countries, the private sector plays some key roles in sporting activities and not just trading or manufacturing sporting wares.”

The president further promised his administration’s commitment to ensure that Nigeria becomes the best sporting nation in Africa and among the top four sporting nations in the Commonwealth and ultimately rule the world.

Jonathan said the vision was not only realistic but was also achievable with hard work, greater sense of purpose and dedication.

The purpose of the retreat according to the president was to chart a new course for sports in Nigeria and reclaim the country’s past glory as well as restore happiness and glory to the sporting events.

Mr Jonathan observed that apart from its benefits in bringing joy to Nigerians, especially when the nation’s teams do well, no other sector of national life has a greater force for mobilising and uniting the people around a common purpose than sports.

Analyst berates poor reception of Paralympic team

Dapo Daramola, a sports analyst on Thursday said the reception of the team that represented Nigeria in the London 2012 Paralympic games was of poor quality compared to what other countries did to welcome their disabled athletes.

The sports analysts, who disclosed this during a chat with the anchors of Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said he didn’t see anything enthusiastic about the expectations of the Team Nigeria athletes concerning their reception at the airport.

Organisers frown at appearance of rogue condoms in Olympic Village

Brand endorsement can be said to be one of the major issues the Olympic organisers have taken seriously as the recent appearance of a bucket of rogue condoms inside the Olympic Village forced the organisers to begin investigation.

The investigation is to seek how the condoms came about as they were not the ‘official’ condom of the Olympics.

Talking of ‘Official’ condom of the London 2012 Olympics, Durex paid to be the official supplier at the London Games.

The company sent 150,000 free condoms to the Olympic Village as part of the deal which will be shared amongst an average of 10,490 athletes. It is expected that there will be enough condoms for every athlete to have sex 15 times over the Olympics’ three weeks.

But if this supply has already been depleted with five days before the end of the games then it might confirm the news which made rounds that the Olympic Village is a hotbed of hook-ups among athletes.

Condoms has always been provided free of charge at the Olympic Village since the 1992 Barcelona Games. They are distributed in progressively copious amounts to athletes.

Some 100,000 condoms were provided for Beijing’s 2008 Games.

This whole condom gist in the London 2012 Olympics started with a tweet from Olympian Caroline Buchanan, an Australian who is a BMX rider, posted a picture of a bucketful of “Kangaroo condoms” with tagline: “for the gland down under”.

Warri to host world athletics today

Athletes from USA, Jamaica, Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis,St. Vincent, Egypt, Cameroon, Botswana, Morocco, Algeria, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Ethiopia, Liberia andUganda are competing today in Warri.

The competition is the brain-child of Athletics Federation of Nigeria President, Solomon Ogba who is a great admirer of  the American Penn and Texas relays.

Thursday’s fiesta also incorporates the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Grand Prix which upgrades it to an Olympic qualification meet.

The warri competition is an avenue for the top athletes to compete for honours before heading down to Calabar for the final Olympic selection trials.

There will be the women  high jump, where two-time All Africa Games high jump champion, Doreen Amata will begin to look over her shoulder for Uhunoma Osazuwa, a national heptathlon record holder who cleared 1.84m at a meet in Canadato last montgh.

Amata, who last year in Maputo, Mozambique successfully defended the high jump title she won in 2007 at the Algiers All Africa Games has been struggling with injury since the start of the season but the mother of one insists there is no cause for alarm.

“ I am fit and battle ready’’, observed the athlete who is on record as the first Nigerian woman high jumper to make it to the finals of the prestigious IAAF World Championships in Athletics last year in Daegu, South Korea.

“Things have not particularly gone as I wished it to be this season, especially after I came back from childbirth to have what is definitely my best season last year,’’ continued Amata who holds the national record at 1.95m and has been dubbed Nigeria’s greatest high jumper of all time.