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  • Updated: April 18, 2021

Edo 2020: Highs And Lows Of 20th National Sports Festival

The 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged Edo 2020 in Benin City ended last Wednesday after 12 days of fierce competition in 39 events. Delta State emerged the overall winner, extending their dominance in Nigeria's mini-Olympic games.

It’s the third consecutive time Delta State, who first won the festival in 2004, would be champion in the competition.

Team Delta claimed 158 gold, 116 silver and 110 bronze medals (384 medals in total) to beat the other teams to the number one position. They have been confirmed as the host of the next NSF.

National Sports Festival

Team Delta bigwigs

Hosts Edo State trailed in the final standings in second place with 129 gold, 104 silver and 108 bronze, with Bayelsa state emerging third best with 56 gold, 55 silver and 58 bronze medals.

Team Rivers garnered 128 medals: 33 gold, 34 silver and 61 bronze to place fourth.

While every state that featured in Edo won at least a medal, six states did not win a gold medal; namely Yobe, Katsina, Kebbi, Adamawa, Sokoto and Taraba.

READ ALSO: Edo Festival: Team Nigeria Ready For Olympics, Says Sports Minister

What a wild ride the 2020 NSF was. AllNews tracks the focal points from April 2nd to 14th 2021.

Highs of Edo 2020

Nigeria's promising young gymnast - Stephanie Onusiriuka

One of the high points of the 20th NSF was the feat of 10-year-old Stephanie Onusiriuka of Anambra State, who won one gold, two silvers and one bronze in the gymnastics event.

The teenager caught the attention of many with her superlative performances despite being so young.

Bayelsa's Ifiaezibe Gagbe is Most Outstanding Athlete with 15 medals

Latest sports news in Nigeria

Excellent Ifiaezibe Gagbe (right) with Sunday Dare, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development of Nigeria

Bayelsa State athlete, Ifiaezibe Gagbe emerged the most outstanding athlete of the 20th NSF after winning 15 medals (the South South state won a total of 169 medals at the Festival).

Gagbe scooped eight gold, two silver and five bronze medals in swimming to beat others to become the most decorated athlete in the NSF held in Edo State.

Fear of spread of COVID-19 doused

The strict compliance to the COVID-19 (a disease that has killed more than 3 million people worldwide) Protocol put in place by the Main Organising Committee (MoC) of the Edo 2020 NSF headed by Nebeolisa Anako, the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in conjunction with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) ensured that there was no spike in the spread of the dreaded virus during the Festival.

According to Anako: "We are excited that the Edo 2020 National sports Festival  has been  a huge success and the fear of the spread of the virus was doused due to measures put in place by the MOC, LOC, the NCDC and other relevant health agencies.

"17 Rapid Diagnostic Test and  Polymerase Chain Reaction test were carried out; 11 PCR and six  RTD”.

He disclosed that the 17 persons who tested positive from 10 states at the beginning of the sports festival were immediately isolated in line with Health guidelines while nine Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) were positive in the course of the Festival, two were positive on arrival.

Inspiring pregnant lady won Gold in Taekwondo

Aminat Idrees, an athlete who is 8 months pregnant, and represented Lagos at the 20th NSF won a gold medal in the mixed Taekwondo (Poomsae). It was Lagos' first Gold medal at Edo 2020.

According to Idrees, "doctors did give me the go ahead".

Poomsae category is the non-combative form of Taekwondo that features hand and leg technique.

Watch Aminat Idrees in action below:

Lows of Edo 2020

Team Ogun disrupts boxing event

Towards the end of the 20th NSF, officials and players of Team Ogun disrupted the male boxing event.

AllNews gathered that violence erupted at the boxing hall when Kasali Abayomi was adjudged to have lost to Lagos State’s Shittu Afolabi.

According to videos sighted online, some aggrieved members of Team Ogun were seen throwing chairs into the boxing ring.

Referees and other officials were also reportedly beaten in the presence of Oluwadare Kehinde, the Ogun state commissioner for Sports.

The Ogun boxers returned to the Games after initially staging a 'walkout', and in the end won gold.

Allegation of Kenyan athlete 'rented' by Nigerian state

Adamu Shehu Mohammed, a Plateau 10,000 athlete who came second requested for disqualification of the winner, and Bayelsa representative.

“This is unacceptable. How can a Kenyan be participating in a National Sports Festival ? He admitted that he is Kenyan when officials confronted him," Mohammed was widely quoted to have said.

But there is another twist to the story!

According to AllNews' sources in Yenagoa, it is actually Rivers state that is protesting the last minute move of Dino Ebarakumo to represent Bayelsa state.

"He apparently didn't inform Bayelsa that he was already a registered athlete with Rivers state so accepted him. Even at that, for Bayelsa officials to accept him at that late stage calls into question their judgement.

"There is no connection of Dino Ebarakumo to Kenya or 10,000 meters race. He is a swimmer. That Kenya stuff must be a separate scandal brewing elsewhere and with separate actors."

Edo 2020

Adamu Shehu Mohammed, the major complainer

The allegation of 'machinery' is definitely controversial. If states cannot invest in their athletes, why not send them to Kenya to train?

Edo threatened to stop 20th National Sports Festival

News came few days into the tournament that the Local Organizing Commitee (LOC) said it may be forced to stop the 20th NSF if the Federal Government of Nigeria does not fulfill its counterpart fund of the games.

Project Manager, Media and Communications of Edo 2020, Ebomhiana Musa, had in a statement on behalf of the LOC, said the decision to end the games was due to paucity of funds.

The statement had read: "The Local Organising Cittee, Edo2020 regrets to announce that it will end the games abruptly tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, 2021 for lack of funds.

“Rising from an emergency meeting this evening, the LOC says it has to take this hard decision due to lack of funds having expended its reserves to kick start the games.

READ ALSO: Edo 2020: The Spirit Of Sportmanship Must Always Prevail - Sports Minister

“Regrettably, the FG is yet to redeem its pledge to support us as the host state financially for the cost of postponements. So, we are left with no option than to end the games at noon tomorrow.”

The NSF was to hold almost a year ago but suffered several postponements due to outbreak of COVID-19.

The NSF was officially declared open on Tuesday April 2nd amid pomp and ceremony with some events already decided as of the time the LOC threatened to end the tourney.

But Nigerian authorities will eventually address cancellation concerns, saying they are "determined to deliver a successful National Sports Festival".

The event was at long last concluded.

READ ALSO: Edo 2020: Okowa Congratulates Team Delta

Event held after Festival closed

After the closing ceremony of the NSF on Wednesday, April 14, AllNews gathered that a 42 km marathon was held the following day, on Thursday, which was won by Philibus Sharabutu of Nasarawa State.

"Impossibility is nothing, you can still win when the game is over. Nigeria is an exception to the rule," Jide Olaniran, a sportscaster stated about the development.

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Ridwan Yusuf
Ridwan Yusuf

Ridwan is a trained Communicator who provides professional coverage of general news and sports. ...

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