Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN ) has said Sunday Akinlabi Dare, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development has been a real blessing to the sport of athletics and indeed all sports since he was made the number one sportsman in Nigeria last August.
In a congratulatory message to the Minister on Friday on the occasion of his 54th birthday, the AFN through its president, Honourable Olamide George hailed Dare as a visionary leader.
‘The AFN and indeed all sports federations in Nigeria are blessed to have a man of vision as sports minister since August 21, 2019. He has redefined sports administration in Nigeria and has made it a business model attractive once again to corporate Nigeria,’ wrote George.
‘The mark of a true visionary is his ability to imagine the future and act on it, yielding great results in the process and then using this success for the benefit of others,’ added George.
The AFN president thanked the Minister for his bold move at reviving long-distance running in Nigeria. ‘The story over the years has always been that Nigeria can rival the East Africans in long-distance races if only we can expose the athletes to altitude training but no sports minister has made any real move towards making this a reality until Honourable Dare became Sports Minister.
‘Now our long-distance runners who showed great promise some 20,30 years ago when the likes of Abbas Mohammed ran 2 hours 16 in the marathon and home-based athletes like Abiodun Salami running 1:48 over the 800m after training at the Mambila Altitude Centre in Taraba state faded away due to our inability to build on those encouraging signs. ‘
Hope has now been rekindled with the intervention of the Minister and in no distant future, Nigerian athletes will not only be battling for Olympic medals in the middle and long-distance races up to the marathon, but we will also be able to have youths making money competing in World Athletics labelled road races across the globe,’ said George who is excited to lead the AFN with Sunday Dare providing the leadership, inspiration and motivation needed to succeed.