This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: IAAF Approves High Performance Training Centre for Uniport

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) at the weekend recorded another milestone, securing the citing of a High Performance Training Centre at the University of Port Harcourt (Uniport).

President of AFN, Chief Solomon Ogba, who attended the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Centenary Gala Show in Barcelona, Spain, confirmed at the weekend that the formal agreement to seal the deal would be signed in January.

"At last, we have been able to secure approval for a High Performance Training Centre from IAAF to help our athletes develop their talents. This is a welcome development for us at the AFN," said Ogba on telephone from Barcelona at the weekend.

The other two centres in Africa currently are situated in Eldoret in Kenya and Dakar, Senegal. Almost all of Kenya's Olympic and World Champions (past and present) have trained at this elite centre of excellence in middle and long distance races.

When fully operational, the Uniport Centre will specialise in Nigeria's area of strength like sprints, quarter miles and jumps.

The highlight of the IAAF Centenary Gala was the announcement of Jamaica's World and Olympic champion, Usain Bolt and American Allyson Felix, as 2012 Male and Female Athletes of the Year.

Bolt, who won the award for the fourth time, and Felix, a first-time winner, received their trophies and $100,000 prize at the Athletes of the Year Awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom of the Pullman Skipper Hotel.

Bolt, 26, the World Athlete of the Year in 2008, 2009 and 2011, successfully defended both his 100m and 200m titles at the Olympic Games in London, clocking 9.63 and 19.32 respectively, both the fastest times in the World this year.

He concluded his Olympic appearance by anchoring a Jamaican quartet to a 36.84 world record in the 4x100m Relay. He won six out of seven competitions in the 100m, and three of four in the 200m.

Jamaica's Head Coach, Glen Mills was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Felix, 27, following World 200m titles in 2005, 2007 and 2009, won the Olympic 200m title in London and was part of the gold medal-winning 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams to become the first woman since 1988 to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

The victorious 4x100m Relay quartet in London clocked a 40.82 World record. Her 21.69 victory in the 200m at the U.S. Olympic Trials was the fastest in the world this year and made Felix the fourth fastest woman in history.

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