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Delta celebrates Ofili, others as 2023 National Youth Games begin |

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After putting up a decent performance in the women’s 200m semifinal at the 2023 Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, last month, U.S.-based Nigeria’s sprinter, Favour Ofili, sat at a corner of the stadium complex to reflect of her event.

Though, she ran a good race, 22.86s, but the effort could only place Ofili in sixth position in Heat 3. With her eyes fixed on the scoreboard for replay of the race, the ever-smiling Ofili realised her journey in the 200m event in Budapest was over.

She turned to The Guardian and said: “I gave it my very best, but it was not good enough. I have learnt some lessons here, and I will have to train harder for future challenges.”

She spoke on her journey so far in athletics, including her youth days. “Since 2013, when I broke into the limelight at the National Youth Games, it has been one success to another, and I thank God for giving me the strength. I will continue to put in more efforts to realise my ultimate goal in athletics.”

The seventh edition of the National Youth Games, tagged Asaba 2023, will begin today at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, with all 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory participating.

For former Nigeria sprinter, jumper and hurdler, Coach Seigha Porbeni, this year’s NYG will help the various states discover more Ofilis in athletics and other sporting events.

“The sole aim of the NYG is to discover talents for the country, and it has helped in that regard because all past editions of the Games had produced athletes, who are flying Nigeria’s flag at the national level today. Other athletes like Ese Brume and Grace Idamadudu also used the NYG as the foundation of their athletics career. I am sure we will get more talents at Asaba 2023,” Porbeni stated.

No doubt, Ofili remains one of the greatest Nigerian sprinters to emerge from the National Youth Games. She made her debut at the second edition of the NYG held in Ilorin, Kwara State, and emerged the Most Valuable Athlete, winning four gold medals for Team Delta. A brave Ofili captured gold in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m relay events.

Ofili participated at the third edition of the NYG, and she also emerged the Overall Best Athlete at the end of hostilities. The NYG was a good foundation the young Ofili needed to take her athletics career to the world. She soon became a star athlete, winning laurels wit
h ease.

Ofili emerged the Female Athlete of the championship at the 2019 African U-18 event after winning the 200 and 400m with new personal bests in both.

Still 16, Ofili represented Nigeria at the Relays in Yokohama a month later, running in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. She won gold in the 200m and finished second behind Patience George in the 400m at the Nigerian Championships in July, running under 52 seconds at the longer event for the first time.

Ofili bettered her mark at the African Games a month later, finishing second with 51.68s and qualifying for the Athletics Championships in Doha. She also anchored the Nigerian team (Kemi Francis, Patience George and Blessing Oladoye) to a gold medal in the women’s 4x400m relay at the Games.

This secured a second senior medal for the young Ofili. As the youngest athlete at the Championships in September, she improved her 400m personal best to 51.51s but lost in the semifinals.

Ofili was part of Team Nigeria squad to the 2021 U-20 Championship held in Nairobi, Kenya. She won bronze in the 200m and two medals in the relays, with her mark in her individual event being the third-fastest ever by a U20 woman

Ofili is the African indoor record holder in 200m and holds Nigerian record (also at U20 level) over the distance with a time of 21.96 seconds, making her the first Nigerian woman in history (and second African woman) to break the 22-second barrier.

She was part of Team Nigeria to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, where she got a silver medal in the 200m.

Ofili, who is on scholarship at the Louisiana State University, set an African indoor record in the 200m with a time of 22.75s at the SEC Indoor Championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas on February 27, 2021. Ofili’s mark set at the Tom Jones Memorial Invitational in Gainesville, Florida, surpassed 14-year-old Blessing Okagbare’s Nigerian record and was also an African record at the time.

She became also the second-fastest indoor 200m runner in collegiate history (after Steiner) in February 2023, setting even better African indoor record of 22.36s at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

The chairman, Delta Sports Commission, Chief Tonobok Okowa, told The Guardian, yesterday, that everything needed to make Asaba 2023 a huge success had been put in place.

“In Delta, we go for the best, and Asaba 2023 NYG won’t be an exception. Our sports-loving governor has given us the marching order to stage the best Games for Nigerian youths. We won’t disappoint,” he stated.

According to the Games’ organiser, a colourful opening ceremony will take place on Saturday. The Games will end on September 30.

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