-As Team Delta retain title

After many years of controversies and postponements, the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival in Benin, Edo State came to an end yesterday with team Delta retaining the title.

The two weeks of competition, business, entertainment and social life in some of the best sports facilities in the West Africa sub-region came to a scintillating end.

Yesterday, the newly refurbished Sam Ogbemudia Stadium, along with other venues adorned festive moods in readiness for the grand finale, which was conducted by Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo.

The closing ceremony saw high-level security operatives put in place to avoid the break down of law and order as part of closing ceremony.

All athletes were at the closing ceremony wearing their accreditation tags and there was no restriction on the number of athletes and officials to be admitted into the stadium, officials said.

The closing ceremony last just a few hours as the finals of the relay races, mixed relays, 4 x 100 m and 4x400m for men and women, signalled the end of the festival.

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, Edo State’s Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, who also doubles as the chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, LOC, spoke of the way forward for sports development in the country.

Meanwhile, defending champions, Team Delta, retained the festival title and the first to win the new festival trophy.

Team Delta won 124 gold, 91 silver and 83 bronze medals amounting to a total of 298 medals. Delta is followed by the hosts state, Edo, which has 103 gold medals, 97 silver and 85 bronze medals totalling 285 medals.

Third-placed Bayelsa has 48 gold, 42 silver and 48 bronze medals.

However, Delta State will have bided to host the 21st edition in 2022 and the State Sports Commission boss, Tony Okowa

Said if Delta is considered, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa will stage a befitting National Sports Festival in 2022.

Since the return to democracy in 1999, Delta State has won the National Sports Festival six times in eight appearances. Delta won at Bauchi 2000, Abuja 2004, Gateway 2006, Kada 2009 and Eko 2012.

Chairman Delta State Sports Commission, Tonobok Okowa confirmed that they have submitted the bid and the state is waiting to be announced as the host of the next National Sports Festival.

“We know we have submitted the bid and we are waiting for the outcome for government to give us green light to host the next National Sports Festival.”

Okowa said that Delta State has the facilities to host a befitting sports festival.

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