Defending champions of the National Sports Festival, Team Rivers, have been charged to further raise the bar in terms of the most gold medals won in the history of the Games.
Team Rivers set a record at the 17th National Sports Festival it hosted in Port Harcourt with a total haul of 135 gold medals.
However, the chairman of Team Rivers Participation Committee at the 18th National Sports Festival, tagged Eko 2012, Tele Ikuru, has charged the state's contingent to win a minimum of 160 gold medals and further cement her place in the history of the games.
Ikuru, who is also the deputy governor of Rivers State, gave the charge while addressing the athletes that will represent the state at their University of Port Harcourt camp on the eve of their departure for Lagos.
He said his optimism of targeting a record 160 gold medals is hinged on how the state has prepared well for the games and the quality of talents available in the team.
According to him, preparations for Eko 2012 started as soon as the last one ended, pointing out that some of the best coaches were employed to train the athletes, in addition to the provision of equipment and strategic camping.
He charged the Team Rivers to be prepared "mentally, physically and spiritually" to grab the medals available at the games, while stressing that to further motivate them, their salaries have been paid till December.
The deputy governor reiterated his earlier promise to adequately reward deserving athletes who perform excellently, adding that the State has the "best reward for good performance in the history of the country and will continue to maintain it.
"Go to Lagos and conquer. Conquer and win with a convincing gap. Bring in the gold and get a deluge. Everything that you will need to succeed in Lagos has been provided. Make yourself and Rivers State proud.
"Team Rivers is going to Eko 2012 to win. We are participating to win in Lagos. We have no reason not to conquer," he stressed.
Also speaking, the Vice Chancellor of University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph Ajienka, urged Team Rivers not be complacent with the victory of 17th edition but should show more zeal as the defending champions and come back with more laurels.
Responding on behalf of the athletes, Miss Mimi Ibiba Siri, thanked the state government for supporting the athletes throughout the camping period and assured that they were going to deliver.
"We will bring back more than we won the last time. We won't let the state down," she summed up.