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LAGOS TARGETS 150, 000 PARTICIPANTS FOR 2019 MARATHON

…Increases Prize Money For Local, Physically-Challenged
Athletes 

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode (2nd right), with Nigeria Ex-Internationals, Mr. Samson Siasia (right); Mr. Waheed Akanni (2nd left) and Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe (left) during a press conference on the 2019 Lagos City Marathon at the Lagos House, Alausa, Ikeja, on Monday, October 15, 2018.

…To Set Up Marathon Village, Eyes IAAF Silver Label

No fewer than 150,000 athletes both locally and internationally
are expected to participate in the 4th edition of Access Bank Lagos City
Marathon, Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode said on Monday.

Addressing a press conference at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja to
officially announce commencement of preparations for the marathon which is
billed to hold on February 2, 2019, Governor Ambode said the target of the
State Government, was to use the forthcoming edition to take the tournament
from the bronze label of International Association of Athletics Federation
(IAAF) to silver, in partnership with the sponsors.

According to him, “The whole idea is to turn the competition
from bronze to silver level. In the last three editions, we had between 100,000
and 120,000 participants. This time around, we want to make sure that come
February 2019, we would have not less than 150,000 participants.

“The reason why we want to take it to that level is to create a
new record and create a new platform to allow the 2019 edition to herald what
is going to happen in the next six years. We believe strongly that in another
six years when we are marking the 10th anniversary, we should actually become a
top class marathon, and that is our vision for this competition.  

“We believe that it is achievable. This is not necessarily about
me; it is not even about the sponsors but about making Lagos to be on that top
brand across the world and that is how cities are elevated to become global
brand,” Governor Ambode said.

He said arrangement had equally been firmed up to encourage more
local participation, as well as more physically-challenged athletes, a
development he said necessitated the increase in prize monies for the two
categories. 

“We think obviously that we should pay more attention to our
physically-challenged athletes this time around and also to embrace more of
local participation. This time around, we would push more money to the local
races and we would push more money to also our physically-challenged athletes to
encourage more people to come in, while the main prize remain the same,” he
said.

Speaking further at the media briefing which was attended by
Nigeria’s sports icons including Mary Onyali, Samson Siasia, Waheed Akanni,
Seye Ogunlewe, among others, the Governor said the idea of the marathon was
part of his administration’s initiatives to use sports, entertainment and
hospitality to grow the economy and positively engage the bourgeoning youth
population in the State.

“Looking at some of Nigeria’s sport legends here, it just
summarizes everything that we have tried to do in the last three and half
years. The idea is that it is possible to create a new set of jobs and services
using sports, using hospitality, using entertainment to create a new level of
creativity and innovation and then drive the Nigerian economy into different
direction that creates positive energy, and when you come to this kind of
gathering and you are able to now see the private sector, sports people, it
means that there is still hope in this country,” Governor Ambode said.

Besides, the Governor commended all the sponsors, media and all
those who have contributed to the success of the marathon in the last three
years, saying the development was a dream come true.  

Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of Lagos State Sports
Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandor said the Lagos City Marathon, was the third of its
kind after Brighton and Bournemouth Marathon in the United Kindgom to earn the
prestigious IAAF Bronze Label only after its second edition, which held on
February 10, 2018.

He said the Governor had already given approval for the setting
up of a Lagos Marathon Village at the Teslim Balogun Stadium that would not
only sustain the culture of the marathon but also serve as a rallying point in
the quest by the present administration to stage mini-marathons in the five divisions
of the State.

“It is going to serve as the headquarters for marathon races in
Lagos. What we have in mind is to have sectoral marathons, Lagos Women Run is
coming up next month, we have SWAN Marathon coming up in December and we also
envisage that we are going to be having Epe Marathon, Ikorodu Marathon and so
on.

“So we need a coordinating office under the direction of the
Lagos State Sports Commission and that is the vision that led to the
construction of that facility within Teslim Balogun to serve as the Lagos
Marathon Village. Construction work will commence anytime from now,” Tandoh
said.

He said the Governor had also approved the constitution of a
Marathon Council that would be responsible for the supervision of the 2019
Marathon and going forward.

On his part, Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr. Herbert Wigwe
said the commitment of the State Government under the leadership of Governor
Ambode has ensured that the Lagos Marathon had become an annual event on the
international athletics map.

He assured that Access Bank, the major sponsors of the Lagos Marathon
would continue to give its full support to the event, adding that the 2019
edition will take the event a notch higher so as to receive an IAAF Silver
Label for the marathon.

In his brief remarks, President of the Athletics federation of
Nigeria (AFN), Engr. Ibrahim Gusau commended Governor Ambode for setting the
pace for others to follow for others to follow in sports development, saying
that the 2018 edition of the Lagos Marathon was highly rated amongst top
competitions on the international calendar.

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