By Sam Oditah
The Commissioner for Sports in Abia, Dr. Martins Okoji, says Team Abia will compete in 22 games at the National Sports Festival holding in Abuja from Dec. 6.
The commissioner made the disclosure on Wednesday when he received the NSF Unity Torch for the 19th edition of the games at the Umuahia Township Stadium.
Okoji expressed joy that the torch arrived safely at Abia, saying that the ritual had further rejuvenated the ministry and athletes in their preparations for the tournament.
He said that the state would improve on its performance at Ilorin, where they came fifth in the overall medals table.
“Team Abia are ready to take on the rest of the states of the federation at the festival,” Okoji said.
Also, the Director of Sports, Mr Isaac Isaac, said that the state was set for the event, having just concluded its week-long trials for the athletes.
Isaac said that the council commenced early preparations so that it could possibly organise open camping for the athletes, if funds were made available early.
“We hope to surpass our last record at Ilorin or replicate our performance,” he said, adding that they aspired for the first five positions in the overall medals table.
It will be recalled that Abia garnered seven gold, eight silver and eight bronze medals at Ilorin.
One of the athletes, Eke Kalu, a short put specialist, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the team had been training hard for the event.
Kalu, who threw 18.79 metres to place fourth at the just-concluded African Championship at Asaba, Delta capital, said that Team Abia sustained their training after the championship.
NAN reports that the National Sports Festival Unity torch was handed over to Abia by Mrs Jane Owoh, the South-East Zonal Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Owoh, who was represented by Mrs Lydia Eze, a senior official of the ministry, said that the torch came from Ebonyi and would move from Abia to Imo.
The brief ceremony was witnessed by top management staff of the state Ministry of Sports, including the Director of Sports Development, Mr Sunny Ogele.