Mikel named U-23 captain, as IAAF clears Hicks
Nigeria’s U-23 team coach, Samson Siasia, has appointed Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi, as captain of the team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nigeria, who are seeking their second Olympic gold, will begin their campaign in Group B against Japan on August 4. Mikel took over from Azubuike Okechukwu, captained the team at the Senegal 2015 U-23 African Cup of Nations. Siasia said the choice of Mikel was automatic as he was the captain of the Super Eagles and Team Nigeria to the Games. He said, “After meeting with both of them and explaining my position, I am pleased to say Azubuike, who has been our captain, understood and was happy to hand over the captain’s band to Mikel. It is a thing of joy for my team to produce the first footballer to captain Team Nigeria to the Olympics. This, to me, is more than gratifying.” Meanwhile, former US men’s 110m hurdler, Antwon Hicks, has been cleared by the International Association of Athletics Federations to compete for Nigeria at the Rio Games. The IAAF also cleared Texas A&M sprinter, Jennifer Madu, to represent Nigeria after she switched her allegiance from the US. The 22-year-old Madu is a nominee for the 2016 National Collegiate Athletic Association Woman of The Year award. According to the latest release from the IAAF, Hicks and Madu became eligible to compete internationally for Nigeria from July 17. Hicks, the 2002 World Junior champion did not compete for the USA at senior level and was thus eligible for Nigeria and will be in action at the Olympic Games in Rio, which begins on August 5. Hicks first competed for Nigeria at the 2016 All Nigeria Athletics Championships/Olympic Trials in July where he ran the qualification time for the Olympics. Also, table tennis star, Funke Oshonaike, would lead Team Nigeria at the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics at the Maracana stadium on Friday, two days after the Nigerian contingent would have been received by the Mayor of Rio, Eduardo da Costa Paes, at the Games Village.