BY Collins Obibi, Lagos
The Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, says the Nigerian Navy (NN) will continue to support the Nigerian Aquatic Federation (NAF) to develop swimming in the country.
The CNS made the remark at the closing of the 9th CNS Swimming Competition which held from Sept. 1 to Sept. 4, 2021 at the National Stadium in Lagos saying that the championship was the contribution of the Nigerian Navy towards the development of swimming and discover young talents that Nigeria can nurture to grow.
Admiral Gambo, who was represented by the Chief Staff Officer, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Habila Zakaria said that it is interesting to note that Nigeria has young talents who can compete in the 50metre swimming championship.
He urged the federation to continue to mentor the young swimmers as they grow and then become senior champions in the country.
He said that the Nigerian Navy would continue to partner with the Aquatic Federation and support them in their plans for the development of swimming in the country.
Mr Babatunde Fatai-Williams, Chairman, NAF said that he was appreciative of the NN support in organising the competition for athletes to sharpen their skills for further international competitions.
Fatai-Williams said that the competition did not hold in 2020 because of the COVID-19 and that he was grateful that the NN organised this championship even though the pandemic was still with us.
“Our responsibility is to coordinate all aquatic swimming activities in Nigeria such as water polo and open water swimming.
“One of the new features in this competition is the inclusion of the Junior Category from 17 which will provide an ideal opportunity for the identification and exposure of more young talents.
“The turnout and performance of the athletes has been impressive and we thank the NN for it,” the chairman said.
Emeritus Coach Daniel Emoghene urged the federation to focus in developing the young talents, saying that Nigeria had a lot of talented swimmers that could win medals for the country if nurtured.
“In the Olympics; after athletics is swimming in the medal table so, if we work hard in swimming we will be able to win medals in the Olympics.
“Right now, it is in the paralympics that we are winning but if we train the swimmers dedicatedly, they will do very well and they will win more medals for the country,” Emoghene said.
Elliot Nwachukwu, 17, from Delta said that he was excited winning gold in relay boys, gold in 50m and 100m breast stroke boys and a silver in 50m butterfly boys category.
The Senior Secondary School (SSS 2) student of Obiaruku Grammer school, Delta State said that he was working to become an Olympian and that he had been training for four years now.
Sgt. Yellow Yeiyah of the Nigeria Police Force and gold medalist in the 50m butterfly men said he was impressed with his performance because people had started to doubt his ability.
Yeiyah, 35, said that a lot of people said he could not swim again because he was getting older therefore, he proved them wrong and showed them that he could still win medals.
“I am the gold medalist of the 20th National Sports Festival in Benin, silver medalist in All African Games 2007 and an Olympian and I still have what it takes to bring home medals.
Delta State came first on the medal table with 12 Golds, 11 Silvers and 4 Bronzes, followed by Nigeria Police Force with 5 Golds, 6 Silvers and 3 Bronzes.
The Nigeria Army came third with 4 Golds, 4 Silvers and 9 Bronze medals.