Over 421 athletes from 32 countries have so far confirmed their participation at the maiden African Athletics Youth Championships billed for March 27-31 in Warri, Delta State.
The Championships are open to athletes who are under-17 as at this year. Confederation of Africa Athletics CAA confirmed Nigeria as the hosts last year, at its congress in Porto Novo, Benin Republic. Some of the countries that have registered include traditional athletics nations like South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia and Algeria. Hosts, Nigeria have the highest number of entry with 80 athletes. Ethiopia have the second largest delegation with 42 athletes, South Africa is coming with 30 athletes, while Cape Verde, Guinea, Zimbabwe and Comoros Islands have only two athletes representing them.
Athletics Federation of Nigeria secretary-general Maria Wophil said that more countries are still been expected to register for the Championships.
"Our estimate is that about 500 athletes will be in Warri. This is huge. We are still expecting more entries as the deadline closes on March 4," she said.
Delta State Sports Commission Chairman and head of the Local Organising Committee, Mr. Pinnick Amaju said that Delta was working hard to ensure a successful hosting of the championships. He added that it will be one of best organised athletics events the continent has ever witnessed. The CAA, during an inspection visit in Warri had urged Delta to set a standard in the hosting of the maiden AYC.
While inaugurating the LOC Delta State governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan urged the committee to make a good show of hosting the championships. He stated that during the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2009, Warri was denied the opportunity of being one of the host cities because of "perceived security fears". " We want to use the AYC to show the world that Warri is a perfectly safe city to visit,"