Zaria Athletics Grand Prix has been financially rewarding and provides athletes from the Northern region and Abuja an opportunity to assess themselves and prepare for major national and international tournaments, according to 1,500m champion, Comfort James.
Not less than N2.6 million was carted away as cash prizes by the podium winners cutting across the 10 events of the competition.
Speaking on how the athletics tournament, whose fourth edition just ended at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna state, has impacted on the track and field athletes, James, who won the women 800m in the second edition in March and women 400m in the third edition in June before emerging the women 1,500m winner at the weekend, said, “the Zaria Athletics Grand Prix has a very great impact on us athletes because it has been financially rewarding, helps us achieve our objectives and prepare us for other competitions.
“What I want to appreciate is the consistency of their payments. There are some competitions we go that don’t pay well and the money does not come on time. But for Zaria Athletics Grand Prix, within two weeks, your cash prize is paid through your bank accounts. The competition helps us to test our performance. When we don’t go to competition, we don’t know our strength, but this competition helps us to work towards correcting out errors.”
For the African Youth and Junior Championship participant in Cote D’Ivoire, her aspiration for next season “is to qualify for the All African Games scheduled for March 2024 in Ghana and probably make the Nigerian team to the (Paris 2024) Olympic Games too.”
Also speaking, the Chairman Athletics Coaches Association of Nigerian (ACAN) Kaduna state chapter, Coach Mike Monyei, said the Zaria Athletics Grand Prix has brought life to athletics in Zaria, “because in time past we leave Zaria for Kaduna and Abuja to compete in tournaments but now God has brought competition to us. Lots of stars have been discovered from the Zaria Athletics Grand Prix now in it’s fourth edition.
“Names like Samuel Ogazi, John Sunday, who represented Nigeria in the last African Youth Games were discovered here, so it is a discovering point for people in the North-west. If there would be need for improvements it would be in the field events. We need athletes to participate in long jump, triple jump and throws (discus, shot put, javelin and hammer). Since the likes of Eric Opuana, Gabriel Opuana, then Ibrahim Baba from Zaria, we’ve not had any good thrower of national or international standard.”