Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare says Nigeria’s fortunes at the annual Access Bank Lagos City Marathon would improve once the country’s High Performance Centres begin full operations.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos on Saturday during the 7th edition of the race, Dare said the Sports Ministry and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria(AFN)would work together to ensure that Nigerians become more competitive in long distance races.
“Our plan is to ensure that Nigerians do not just make up the numbers but also enjoy podium finishes in long distance races. We are reviving some of the programmes that will make this happen.
“We are also going to get our High Performance Centres fully operational. We have a centre in Pankshin, Plateau State and another one in Taraba State.
“Hopefully in the next few editions of this marathon, we would have a Nigerian clean sweep of the podium places.”
The Sports Minister also tasked corporate Nigeria to follow the lead of the sponsors of the Lagos City Marathon, Acess Bank, by investing in sports.
“I will be happy to see other States replicate this kind of event and for corporate bodies to emulate the sponsors. I can assure you that the Sports Ministry will key into this,” Dare assured.
Ethiopia’s Geleta Ulfata won the men’s race in the 42km marathon, earning $30,000 in the process.
Kenyan duo of David Barmasai and Emmanuel Naibei finished in second and third place to win $20,000 and $15,000 respectively.
In the women’s category, Ethiopia’s Diagne Siranesh Yirga and Alemenseh Ginta finished first and second, while Kenya’s Naomi Maiyo finished third. They earned the same prize money as the men.
Other important dignitaries present at the marathon included the Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, his Deputy, Dr Femi Hamzat, the Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shuaibu, the Chairman of Access Bank, Mrs Iyabo Awosika and some top Lagos State Government officials.