Nigeria’s leading Schools’ Athletics Championships, MTN Champs, kicked off its second leg in Ibadan yesterday. A press conference held on Thursday, April 4th, revealed a competition brimming with anticipation. This leg boasts a record number of 2,600 participating athletes and a new feature: the introduction of the Continental Relays.

Among the distinguished guests in attendance were Professor Abdul Waheed Salihu Adelabu, Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Oyo State; Hon. Wasilat Adegoke, Commissioner for Sports, Oyo State; Bisi Adegoke, Director of Sports Administration, Ministry of Youth and Sports Oyo State; Bambo Akani, Founder, Making of Champions; Idowu Adesokan, General Manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria.

This year’s MTN Champs features several exciting developments.  For the first time, the competition will be held simultaneously in two locations: Lekan-Salami Stadium and the University of Ibadan (UI) Sports Complex. Additionally, the event expands to include a senior category, catering to a wider range of athletes.

The most significant innovation is the introduction of the Continental Relays. This event will feature teams from five African countries competing on Nigerian soil. These relays serve as a crucial qualifier for the World Relays and ultimately, the Olympic Games.

Beyond the thrilling competitions and records to be broken, MTN Champs offers a deeper significance. Idowu Adesokan, General Manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria, spoke at the press conference, emphasizing the unifying power of sports that transcends our differences.  He noted that while sports like football hold a strong position in the hearts of Nigerians, athletics has steadily claimed its own space. “While football holds a special place in the hearts of Nigerians, athletics has steadily carved its own path to success. We’ve witnessed countless athletes who’ve filled us with pride on the international stage, from The African Games to the Olympics. These individuals have put Nigeria firmly on the global map. We are excited to be part of this initiative and will continue to support things that matter to Nigerians,” said Adesokan.

Bambo Akani, Founder of Making of Champions, emphasized Nigeria’s strong potential in athletics at the press conference; noting the nation’s impressive record of eight out of ten relay medals won at the Olympics in the last decade. Akani emphasized at the press conference that   “We need to start setting our sights higher. We’re not satisfied with dominating Africa in track and field. That’s a low bar for us to set for ourselves. In the next five years with MTN Champs, you’re going to see Nigeria be mentioned in the same breath as USA and Jamaica in track and field, sprinting, and the olympics. That is why we’re also using this event to launch the idea of the continental relays.”

Other notable figures who graced the occasion included HRM Oba Dairo Jacob Olutayo Fadairo I, the Olasole of Lasole Kingdom; Akin Osun Sunday, State Coordinator, Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF); Deji Aliu, Olympic medallist and MTN CHAMPS Meet Director; and Enoch Adegoke, MTN CHAMPS Ambassador and five-time qualifying Olympian.

The second leg of MTN Champs in Ibadan promises excitement and innovation. With a record-breaking number of athletes, simultaneous venues, and the introduction of the Continental Relays, MTN Champs is poised to propel Nigeria to the forefront of African and, ultimately, global athletics.