The International Canoeing Federation (ICF) has cleared Nigeria to host one of the main Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying tournaments in November.
ICF President Thomas Konietzko disclosed this after he expressed satisfaction with the level of organisation and facilities for the championship in the country.
Konietzko who was a special guest at the just concluded First African Admiral Porbeni Canoe Race Championships held at the Jabi Lake, Abuja, also expressed delight at the quality of the event, saying he was impressed with the number of talents that abound in the West African nation.
“I think we have so many talented athletes here in Nigeria and this competition has proven that African organisers are able to organise Canoe competitions on a very professional level.
“We have to develop sports in Africa and as a first important step, we need more regional competitions here.
“The lack of equipment is also another important issue and we have had meaningful discussions with the Federation on how we can help so as to engage more kids in the sport.
“With time more African athletes will pick interest in the sport and even go ahead to qualify and compete for medals at the Olympic games,” he said.
Meanwhile, a cross section of the stakeholders at the maiden African Admiral Porbeni Canoe Race championships in Abuja commended the organisers of the event and advocated for more development of the sport at the grassroots.
No fewer than 100 athletes from five African countries including Ghana, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo and host Nigeria took part in the event.
Joao Afonso, the 1st Vice President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) said there was a need to create opportunities to discover and develop talents in the sport.
Afonso noted that more than 60 percent of the African population were youths, adding that ANOCA was working hard to create conditions for the youths to practice and keep themselves busy with the sport.
“We have to change our African mentality because here we believe that the only sport existing is football.
“So, there is a need to change the narrative.
We have a total of 42 sports at the Olympics, of which football is just one out of so many others,” he said.
President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Habu Gumel, said the federation had the capacity to develop the sport at the grassroots, especially with the vast waterways and talents that abound in the country.
“It is very important to develop the sport at the grassroots and we have a lot of waterways and talents scattered everywhere in the country.
“We are in discussion with both the ICF president as well as other international organisations to provide the federation with more equipment.
“We from the NOC will continue to give them all the necessary support so they will be able to excel,” he said.