Africa agog as All-Africa Games takes centre stage

By Toby Prince

All Africa GamesThe 11th edition of the All-Africa Games officially kicks off on Friday in September in Brazzaville, Congo with a colourful opening ceremony at the new Kintele Stadium.

Preliminary play began earlier in select sports in the fiesta that runs from September 2 to September 19.

The tournament returns to its origin, where it all started in 1965 with 54 nations competing in 23 sporting events from September 1st to 19th.

There will be scientific and cultural activities to mark the celebrations. Modern sport infrastructures have been built at Kintele, a northern suburb of Brazzaville.

Some other sport infrastructures have also been restored such as Ornano Stadium, the complex Omni sport of Ouenze, University and Sport Centre of Makelekele Massamba Debat Stadium where the first edition took place.

In terms of communication, a special building has been built just for media at the sports complex of Kintele.

In this centre, there are 40 offices for media and two studios for recording. Most of the competitions will take place at Kintele.

The Congolese government has invested nearly $700m to erect new and renovate old structures for the sports carnival that will feature about 15,000 athletes.

Nigeria will be hoping to better her 31 gold, 28 silver and 39 bronze medals won at the previous edition in Maputo Mozambique which earned it a third place overall ranking behind South Africa and Egypt.

A 573-man Nigeria contingent made up of athletes, coaches and official will represent the country in 21 sporting events.

Meanwhile, Africa queen of the sprints, Blessing Okagbare, has opted out of the sporting fiesta the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has disclosed.

The 27-year-old had a dismal performance at the just concluded IAAF World Championship in China and decided to take some time away from the sport.

“Yes, she told us she won’t be available for the All-Africa Games in Congo,” an AFN official, Olumide Bamiduro, told The Guardian.

“I don’t know her whereabouts at the moment because she did not travel with us from Beijing to Nigeria. I am sure she must have returned to her base in the United States,” he added.