The 2021 National Youth Games unofficially kicked off today at the University of Ilorin gymnasium as male gymnasts representing Edo, Delta, Ogun, Plateau, Kaduna, Rivers, Oyo, Ekiti and FCT all contested in the Vault, Floor Exercise and Pommel Horse heats and final of the gymnastics event.
The young athletes representing different states gave a good account of themselves as they performed brilliantly to the cheers of their mates and officials.
After the three groups performances in the Floor Exercise, Team Ogun, placed in the same group as Delta, Rivers and Plateau, came up with well drilled performance which earned the first gymnast of the state a huge 6.90 that could only have an FCT gymnast with 6.50 the closest.
The defending champions, Delta came third in the first event of games that have a lot of medals to shell out.
The games officially kicks off tomorrow with the opening ceremony slated for 3pm at the Maracana Stadium I, Unilorin.
Meanwhile, degrees of grumbling and appeals littered the corridors of the screening committee at the games as states were left stranded after the committee have some of their athletes screened out on age issues. States like Edo, Imo, Lagos have some of their athletes dropped with the host state, Kwara suffering the same. Affected states meanwhile have approached the table of the committee with documents to back up their appeals.
The screening and appeals which lasted till late into the night are expected to have be all done by tomorrow, before the opening ceremony. It’s however yet to be seen if any measures would be adopted to accommodate some of the already screened out athletes into the competition.
In another development, the Doping Control Officer (DCO) for the Games, Mr Oluwafemi Ayorinde hinted at plans to enlighten athletes in their battle against doping. In a short dialogue with journalists, Mr Ayorinde highlighted what his team would be doing throughout the competition, starting from Friday.
“What we have planned is to have a lot of education and orientation programme for the atheletes- show them films to answer some questions, tell them what doping control is -why the use of drugs to enhance performance is bad and how they will not get involved into it”.
“We have two doping control stations and anti doping education officers around with thier projectors and everything they need to impact knowledge on the athletes”.
Events will begin in full on Friday, before and after ceremony across all venues scheduled to have games hosted.
Ayoola Adeleke live in Ilorin