As part of his long-term plan to promote Nigeria’s long distance running at the world level, the Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Sunday Dare, has announced that the first National Cross Country Championship organized by his ministry will be held on the 18th of February in Jos, Plateau state.
The championship, according to the Minister of Sports, is necessary to enable athletes to develop their strength and make them better runners.
“Cross country running, experts tell us is excellent for developing strength,” says Dare who began the move to develop distance running in Nigeria last year.
“We have enormous potentials to rival the east Africans and win laurels for the country at continental and international championships and games. More importantly, we want to positively engage the mass of distance runners in this country and make them earn good living from running around the world like their east and north African counterparts,” said the Minister.
Project Coordinator, Chief Tony Osheku shares in the minister’s dream, insisting that Dare will be remembered as the first Sports Minister in over four decades who has taken positive and proactive interest in long distance running and runners.
He also explains why cross country is a necessary start for distance runners who want to succeed on the road or the track.
“I was a strong part of the team the Sports Minister assembled last year to map out plans on how to develop long distance running in Nigeria and I remember we had a camp for a few weeks in Jos for some of our elite distance runners,” said Osheku, a former Nigeria 1500m champion and one of the best brains when it comes to distance running in Nigeria.
“I cannot remember any Sports Minister who has shown the kind of interest and enthusiasm Chief Dare has shown and his knowledge of the sport. It is amazing,” observed Osheku.
Like the Sports Minister, Osheku stressed that training like a cross country runner or running in a cross country event will make an athlete faster, stronger and more in tune with his body and become mentally stronger.
The National Cross Country championship is a 10km event and will be held at the Rhino Golf course in the beautiful city of Jos.