By Amaechi Agbo
Ahead of next week’s kick off of the maiden edition of African Track Championship also known as African Cup of Nations 2019 to be hosted in Nigeria, the Cycling Federation of Nigeria, CFN has acquired new 40 bicycles for the competition.
CFN President, Giandomenico Massari disclosed this to journalists during a media chat ahead of the championship which will commence on Friday, 26th through Sunday, 28 July, 2019.
Mr Massari said that apart from the bikes being a yardstick for the competition, it was made necessary due to the fact that prior to their acquisition, the federation had only 3 bicycles. He added that the federation had three bicycles and then acquired another 27 more in order to consolidate Nigeria’s chances of hosting and winning the championship.
Mr Massari who was deeply elated over the hosting as well as the preparation so far put in place by his board and the equipment available for the championship, however lamented that the federation is facing paucity of fund and called on corporate bodies to come in and identify with the federation as cycling is a global sports with massive followership.
“Right now we have acquired 40 bikes. We have 37 new bikes and then the three we had before which makes it 40. They came from different countries such as Algeria, Italy and France. The bikes are state-of-the-art. So we have the equipment.
“Our target is to improve our cycling and make it better and boast our athletes. To give a sense of focus and uplift the image of the country. We participated in the Africa Youth Games last year in Algeria and we won gold in track during West Africa track.
“Last year we retrieved the Volodrome which is the best in Africa and one of the best in the world. We are not happy that we have not utilised this edifice which offers a lot of opportunities for us.
“One of the challenges we have is the issue of finances. We need sponsors to help us achieve our aim. Sponsors will benefit greatly if they come in because cycling is a global sport with massive fans.
“Since we got back the Volodrome, Confederation of Africa Cycling CAC saw the need to give us the hosting right for the championship. In March congress held in Rome, we signed the official MOU conferring the hosting right on us. It is a very big competition. We want to make Nigeria happy after the championship,” he said.
On his part, the Technical Director, CFN, Mohammed Bashri said that a total of 21 cyclists will represent Nigeria in both junior/senior male and female events in the competition adding that the federation will participate in 7 events.
“In the month of June, we sent out letters to all the 36 states federation to send us their two best cyclist for two weeks training. After that we were able to identify the potentials that will be able to do the nation proud.
“In June we had another training and as we speak now, 14 cyclists have been in camp and 10 Cyclists have joined from Gombe state – that is our senior elite and U-23. We sent them down to Gombe to work on their endurance. In the track, we need speed but without endurance and strength you will not be able to withstand the speed.
“They will be in training camp with others. We have 21 athletes who will be representing the country in the U-23 elite both male and female. We are taking part in seven events both male and female, junior and senior categories. We have the sprint, the 500m and 1km track. We also have the six-in-one event, point race, the individual pursuit and the team sprint in both male and female.”
A total of 10 countries including Burundi, Egypt, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Benin and host Nigeria are participating in the three-day competition. Burundi and Ivory Coast have arrived for the championship.