Tag Archives: Stephen Keshi Stadium

Asaba 2018: Africa guilty for failing to deliver to the world

“The world will not respect Africa until Nigeria earns that respect. The black people of the world need Nigeria to be great as a source of pride and confidence.” – Nelson Mandela

They came in their hundreds with high expectations. They thought all the glitter that Nollywood offered was gold. They were expecting world-class transportation. They expected the red carpets to be rolled out for them. They were left frustrated at the realisation that all the talk about Nigeria being the giant of Africa was after all, all talk.

They thought we were going to offer them a tournament like the showpiece that the Russians offered the world. Alas, Africa was guilty of expecting too much from its errant brother.

Asaba, a town bordering the Niger River at the crossroads between East and West, has not had this much press since the massacre of hundreds of its male population by the Nigerian forces during the country’s infamous civil war. It came under focus, this time for good, last week as it prepared to host the 21st African Senior Athletics Championships.

Hundreds of athletes from across the continent had come in search of medals and qualification spots for the 2018 IAAF Continental Cup. But many were left stranded at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos due to an inability to find connecting flights to Asaba.

Much of the problem, it has emerged, was due to poor communication between visiting teams and the local organising committee (LOC).

There is just one flight to Asaba daily, an Overland Airways ATR 42 plane that carries 48 passengers. It was going to be impossible to manage the sudden increase in human traffic for the event without hiring charter planes for the athletes and officials. How the Confederation of African Athletics awarded such a tournament to a city with obviously very limited flight connections needs to be interrogated considering it must have presented a bid document with full details of transport and logistics infrastructure on offer.

The other options were for delegations to fly into neighbouring cities like Benin, Owerri and Port Harcourt and then travel by road to Asaba. We were greeted with scenes of athletes sleeping on the airport floor as well as complaints on social media leading to a public relations nightmare that threatened to derail the other good work done by the organisers.

After the tournament eventually got underway following the postponement of the activities of the morning session of the first day, things moved on smoothly. Much of the 22,000 seats inside the Stephen Keshi Stadium were snapped up by fee-paying spectators who poured in to watch some of Africa’s most famous athletes.

It was easily the biggest event to be hosted in that city since it became capital of the oil-rich Delta State in 1991. The beautiful Stephen Keshi Stadium, named after one of Nigeria’s greatest and most enigmatic football figures, was lit up by the event. Following years of abandonment, the stadium finally welcomed Africa for its first major event.

Despite the smooth flow of proceedings after the difficulties suffered by several delegations, the tournament will unfortunately always be remembered by the flight problems faced by the visiting delegations. It is normal, bad news travels fast. Nigeria’s reputation as a country that is capable of hosting international events was, unfortunately, terribly dented. But who is to blame? Can one really host a perfect tournament in our country as it is?

There is hardly any existing infrastructure to support any sector of endeavour, not the least sport. One of the main conversations among many Nigerian journalists during the 2018 World Cup was the idea of Nigeria hosting the tournament one day. We came to the conclusion that it can only be a distant dream.

Where is the transportation system to power the movement of hundreds of thousands of people that would visit to support their teams? Where are the hotel rooms to lodge guests? Where are the standard restaurants for them to wine and dine? Where is the electricity to power all the technology? A country where our two national stadia are comatose? Asaba is just a tip of the iceberg. We know our problems, unfortunately many people looking from outside do not see it.

For a country of our size and so-called potential, it is no wonder that our African brothers and sisters cried out at the poor manner in which they were treated. It is not their fault. They expected better from us and were left disappointed that the “big brother” of the continent struggled to get things right. Many countries with lesser resources have sadly left us behind.

Rwanda and Morocco hosted the last two African Nations Championships with glowing reviews from all the journalists that attended. Cameroon put up a brilliant World Cup qualifier against us in Yaounde last year. South Africa hosted a brilliant World Cup. But Nigeria will remain what it is, a place where logic fails and hired pens try to justify it.

Weep not for Nigeria, O Africa, for we should no longer be the yardstick for judging your progress. Unlike Mr Mandela, I think Africa can become a place of progress and respect as long as Nigeria no longer tries to get in the way. It is the sad reality.

Source: guardian.ng

Asaba 2018 Report: Great spectatorship, poor mismanaged event and facilities

When the curtains fell at the Asasba 2018 event, Kenya had proved her dominance in athletics the Africa power house edging out defending champion, South Africa and host Nigeria to win the 21st edition of the African Senior Athletics Championships rounded that was held at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Niger Delta.

The East Africans, who hosted and won the 19th edition in 2014, beat defending champions, South Africa and host, Nigeria, to the second and third positions respectively.

The Kenyans swept six gold medals yesterday to bring their total medals to 19, made up of 11 gold, six silver and two bronze medals.

Kenya’s victorious 4x400m relay squad led by Emmanuel Korir, Aron Koech, Alphas Kishoyian and Jared Momanyi. Photo: Courtesy

The 22,000-capacity Stephen Keshi Stadium was always filled throughout the duration of the competition. There seems to be more tricycle operators in the city than cars.

However, the Asaba 2018 championship was not all a smooth sail in the area of facilities, as many athletes said the CAA-approved tracks was bumpy and could cause serious injuries to them.

Some of them preferred to run slower times to avoid injury, including the women’s 100m, which was won in 11.15 seconds by Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who had ran faster times this year.

The Ivorian said after winning the race that the track needs to be worked on for a smoother finish. “The surface appears good but when you run on it, you notice that it is bumpy and not smooth. There can be no fast times in this competition.”

South Africa’s speed star, Akani Simbine, who won the men’s 100m in 10.25 seconds, said: “I came with the aim to run a sub-9 seconds in Asaba, but that is really not achievable on this tracks. I have to be careful to avoid serious injuries.”

On his part, Nigeria national men’s 100m champion, Adeseye Ogunlewe, who finished fifth in the final of the event, lamented that he stumbled in each of his races.

“This tartan track is bad. You are running fast and all of a sudden you bump into a bad portion and stumble. I almost fell in each of the races. I ran in lane 5 and 6 and each of them was not good.”

Apart from the tracks, the toilets, which served both the athletes and journalists who covered the championship was an eye sore. The sanitary facilities at the stadium could not be effectively used, as there was no water supply to the toilets. To save the situation, the organisers had to detail over 10 sanitary workers to fetch water from a tank outside the main-bowl to cater for the athletes’ needs.

Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou celebrates after winning the 100m women gold at the Africa Senior Athletics Championships. Photo: Getty Images.

The television set provided inside the media center did not function throughout the duration of the championship. Until the end of the championship on Sunday, the facility imported to provide floodlight for the event were still lying on the ground, thereby forcing CAA officials to re-adjust the programme of event. The scoreboard till now is yet to be fixed.

Another setback recorded at the championship was accreditation of athletes and officials. Even journalists also found it difficult to get accredited and many were denied access to be part of the opening ceremony at the stadium.

At the Patrick Okpomo Football House in Asaba, venue of the accreditation exercise, many athletes, who arrived on Wednesday, were told to return to their hotels to await their accreditation. Many frowned at the facilities used in capturing their photographs because of poor outcome of the accreditation.

Though, the chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the competition, Chief Solomon Ogba, later apologised for the shortcomings that were experienced at this championships.

While athletics events were ongoing on inside the mainbowl of the stadium on Day 2 of the championship, a newly installed water tank at the swimming pool side of the complex crashed, destroying parts of the stadium fence. The tank tore the bonnet of a Sports Utility Vehicle while parts of the tank fell on another car. It was as a result of poor job by the contractor, as substandard equipment was allegedly used to erect the iron stands. It did not happen inside the mainbowl of the stadium, so the competitions were not disrupted.

The LOC tried in the area of security, protocol, medical, transportation and accommodation.

After the initial hiccup in moving athletes and their officials to Asaba, the state government moved in by providing a chartered flight. As at yesterday morning, the virtually all the visiting athletes and their officials had been evacuated from the city.

To avoid a repeat of such organisational setbacks witnessed in Asaba, the IAAF President, Sebastian Coe, has promised to assist the sport in Africa. “I am not just here for the ceremony, I brought a big team with me from our headquarters to understand the challenges countries face in delivering athletics events like this even at the regional level.

“My team is also here to observe to see how they can be more helpful in the delivering more opportunities. Africa has a great potential and we have to work together with the officials on the continent to understand how the IAAF can help to develop the sport. This is a great event and although there are some challenges, the athletes have been doing well and that is good for the sport.”

The IAAF boss is said to have awarded the hosting right for 2015 World Athletics Championship to Africa. Nigeria is one of the six countries in the continent now bidding to host the event.

Additional : guardian.ng

Kenya Rules Africa in Athletics Championships

Kenya proved her dominance in athletics once again as the East African power house edging out defending champion, South Africa and host Nigeria to win the 21st edition of the African Senior Athletics Championships rounded up yesterday at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Nigeria.

The East Africans, who hosted and won the 19th edition in 2014, beat defending champions, South Africa and host, Nigeria, to the second and third positions respectively.

The Kenyans swept six gold medals yesterday to bring their total medals to 19, made up of 11 gold, six silver and two bronze medals.


  1. Hellen Obiri (5,000m),
  2. Conseslus Kipruto (3,000m steeplechase)
  3. Samuel Gathimba (20km race walk)
  4. Julius Yego (javelin)
  5. Elijah Manangoi (1500m)
  6. Winny Chebet (1500m),
  7. Edward Zakayo (5,000m)
  8. Beatrice Chepkoech (3,000m steeplechase)
  9. Mathew Sawe (high jump)
  10. Stacey Ndiwa (10,000m)
  11. Men’s 4x400m relay.


  1.  Emmanuel Korir (800m)
  2. Grace Wanjiru (20km race walk)
  3. Timothy Cheruiyot (1500m)
  4. Celliphine Chespol (3,000m steeplechase)
  5. Alice Aprot (10,000m)
  6. Women’s 4x400m relay


  1.  Fancy Cherono (3,000m steeplechase)
  2. Women’s 4x100m relay team

South Africa, who hosted and won the last edition in Durban, won a total of 30 medals made up of nine gold, 13 silver and eight bronze medals. Team Nigeria got 19 medals made up of nine gold, five silver and five bronze medals.

Morocco, Ethiopia, Cote d’ivoire, Tunisia and Botswana followed in that order.
For the first time in the history of the African championships, athletes from Nigeria and other African countries will not just go home with their medals, but with monetary reward.

The Local Organizing Committee of the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship yesterday revealed prize money for athletes who won medals in Asaba.

Speaking in Asaba, LOC Chairman, Solomon Ogba, announced that athletes who won gold medal will get a cash prize of $3000 each.

Ogba added that silver medalists will be rewarded with ($2000), while bronze medalists will smile home with ($1000).

Over 120 medals were won at the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship, tagged Asaba 2018.

The next edition of the championship will be taking place in Algeria in 2020.


Nigeria confirm interest in bidding for Athletics World Championships

Nigeria confirmed its interest in hosting the 2025 International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships as the African edition closed with victories for Beatrice Chepkoech and Caster Semenya in Asaba.

World record holder Chepkoech led home a 1-2 finish for Kenya in the 3,000 metres steeplechase today at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, just two weeks after her stunning 8min 44.33sec clocking at the Monaco Diamond League.

She produced a more tactical performance to triumph in 8.59.88 as team-mate Celliphine Chespol crossed second in 9:09.61.

Weyeshet Ansa Weldetsadik of Ethiopia took bronze in 9.23.92.

South Africa’s Semenya then completed the 400 and 800m double with a time of 1:56.06 over the longer distance.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba took silver in an equally quick 1:57.97 and Bayih Habitam Alemu clinched another Ethiopian bronze in 1:58.86.

Marie-Josée Ta Lou, the silver medallist over 100 and 200m at last year’s World Championships in London, completed her domination of the two sprints in Nigeria.

The Ivorian won the 200m today in 22.50 to finish a huge 0.86 clear of second placed Bevina Abessolo of Cameroon.

Hor Halutie took Gambian bronze in 23.40.

There was home success for Nigeria in the women’s 400m hurdles as Glory Nathaniel won in 55.53.

South Africa’s Wenda Nel and Kenya’s Maureen Jelagat of Kenya took silver and bronze in respective times of 57.04 and 57.27.

South Africa also clinched gold in the men’s 200m as Ncincilili Titi won in 20.46 to beat Nigeria’s Oduduru Ejowvokoghene, second in 20.60, and another South African in Luxolo Adams, who was third in the same time.

It came at the end of a chaotic week of racing in which numerous organizational problems emerged.

These spanned the arrival of athletes, with many stranded in Lagos before arrival in Asaba, as well as the state of the track itself.

Nigeria’s still owe a missing $150,000 (£106,000/€121,000) mistakenly sent to the country last year by the IAAF and have so far only pledged to repay half.

Athletics Federation of Nigeria President Ibrahim Gusau insists Abuja will bid for the 2025 edition of the flagship IAAF event, however, after plans were announced to host the event in Africa.

Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa have all been mooted as potential hosts.

“The Abuja stadium will be renovated not just for the event but to prepare athletes, Abuja offers excellent traffic and road network complemented by standard hotels and hospitality facilities,” Gusau said, according to The Daily Trust.

“So by 2025, Nigeria will be ready to host the world.

“The Government has put not just Asaba, but Nigeria on the world map of athletics.

“There have been ups and downs, but the athletes ave been in high spirit.

“Spirit of athleticism kindled among startlets.”

source: insidethegames.biz

Semenya breaks 25-year-old 800m African record

World champion Caster Semenya led from the front again as South Africa continued their fine form on the final day of the 21st African Athletics Championships in Asaba.

Semenya took her second gold medal in Nigeria, this time in the women’s 800m final on Sunday.

The two-time Olympic champion stopped the clock in a time of 1:56.06 at the Stephen Keshi Stadium.

Semenya broke a African record held by her idol Maria Mutola, which the Mozambican icon ran at the 1993 African Championships in Durban (1:56.36).

Burundian Francine Niyonsaba took silver in 1:57.97 and Bayih Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia took bronze in a time of 1:58.86.

On Friday, Semenya smashed a 18-year-old national record previously held by Heide Seyerling in the women’s 400m final – becoming the first SA woman to dip under 50 seconds.

Source: sport24.co.za

Manangoi and Cheruiyot win gold and silver in 1500m race in Asaba

World and Commonwealth games champion Elijah Manangoi led 1-2 Kenyan finish for men’s 1,500m final at the 21st African Athletics Championships at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba,Nigeria.

Manangoi gave a powerful kick with about 300m to go and leading his training partner Timothy Cheruiyot, who has run this season five world leading time this season to give Kenya two medals.

Chepkoech leads a podium sweep for Kenya in steeplechase

World 3000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech led a 1-2-3 Kenya sweeps on the final day of the Africa Senior Athletics Championships at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Nigeria.

Chepkoech took gold and the world U20 steeplechase record holder Celliphine Chespol took silver with Fancy Cherono closing the podium three finishes.

ASABA 2018: Kenya’s Sawe Retains Africa High Jump Title

Kenya’s national record holder Mathew Sawe retained the men’s Africa men’s high jump as Kenya won another gold in Asaba, Nigeria.

The 29-year-old Kenyan army officer, coached by Frenchman Moussa Fall, won to put Kenya on the driving seat with the country’s fourth gold at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Delta State as the third day came to a close.

In 2016, Sawe became the first Kenyan to win a gold at the Africa Championships in high jump, as he cleared 2.21m at the Africa Championships, in Durban, South Africa.

Sawe disappointed the home crowd by outclassing home boy and favourite Fourie Keagan for the coveted continental gold, who took silver in 2.18m as Cameroon’s Fernand Djoumessi (2.15m) settled for bronze at the Kings Park Stadium, Durban two years ago.

ASABA 2018: Kenya’s Chebet Bags First Career Gold

Winnie “Silver Lady”  Chebet bagged her first ever running career title by securing gold medal in the women’s 1500m at the Africa Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria on Friday.

Chebet has always played second fiddle in championships blazed her way to victory for Kenya’s third gold at the Stephen Keshi Stadium to break her gold winning jinx with a time of 4:14.02.

When making her debut in 2005 in 800m she won silver at the World Youth Championships in Marakech, Morroco, and then settled for second place the following at the World Junior competition in Beijing, China.

Chebet’s last gold medal was in 2009 at the Africa Junior Junior Championships in Bambous, Mauritius in the women’s 800m.

In 2009, at the Africa Junior Championships in Bambous, Mauritius, Chebet secured silver in 800m.

Since 2009, she has never won any medal and in her last outing at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia she was 18th in the metric mile until today in Nigeria where she has emerged as the African Queen by breaking the lame duck.

“I’ve been trying for very long and now I have finally  gotten that elusive gold medal. Glory be to God and i know more are to come,” she said in a post race interview