On Saturday, November 24, 2012, the Rivers State contingent to the 18th National Sports Festival christened ‘Eko 2012’ left their camps at the University of Port Harcourt for Lagos, the host state of this year’s event.
The contingent, popularly called ‘Team Rivers’ are the defending champions of the annual national sport fiesta, having won the 17th edition of the national festival with a total of 135 gold, 79 silver and 85 bronze medals.
It would be recalled that the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi had while receiving the Torch of Unity for the Eko 2012 in Port Harcourt, expressed the hope that the state was taking part in the festival because it believes it can retain the crown it won last year when it hosted the competition.
Amaechi said the state’s campaign at Eko 2012, which it christened ‘Participating to Win,’ would show that the feat it achieved at the 17th edition was no fluke, saying; “This time around we are participating to win and win double medals from the last festival. Team Rivers members made the State proud when they participated and won gold, silver and bronze, this time our hopes are high, the team is prepared and would win.”
Before their departure to Lagos, the team had, on Friday, November 23, 2012, held a one-full hour devotion and prayer session featuring four Pentecostal pastors, at the Ebitimi Banigo Hall, University of Port Harcourt, Alakahia, near Port Harcourt.
In attendance at the prayer session were Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by his deputy and Chairman, Team Rivers Participation Committee, Mr. Tele Ikuru, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Joseph Ajienka.
Also in attendance were the State Commissioner of Sports, Hon. Fred Igwe, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communications, Mrs. Jokotade Adamu and the State Director of Sports, Mr. Daobu Harvest Harry.
Addressing the contingent, Governor Amaechi charged the athletes to win a minimum of 160 gold medals and further cement her place in the history of the games, saying that his optimism of targeting a record 160 gold medals is hinged on how the state has prepared well for the games and the quality of talents available in the team.
Speaking through his deputy, Amaechi advised the athletes to be disciplined in the their conduct and be physically, mentally and spiritually focused to achieve their aim at the competition.
He said; “All you will need to make you comfortable in camp will be provided, the only thing is to make yourself and Rivers State proud by bringing home several gold medals with a large convincing gap.’’
The governor thanked the Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt Prof Joseph Ajienka for hosting and providing an enabling environment to prepare the athletes for the challenge.
For Miss Mimi Ibiba Siri, a badminton player, the entire members of Team Rivers appreciates Rivers State Government for its support and contributions towards their welfare throughout the camping period.
Ibiba-Siri said; “We are assuring Rivers State that we will deliver and not let you down, we are going with our spirit high to bring home more gold medals, more than we got last year.’’