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Eighth All-Africa Games in Abuja, Nigeria
Two Seychelles contingents half way to Abuja

PS Nanty and chef de mission Arnephy speak to female volleyballers

TWO of the three Seychelles contingents for the Eighth All-Africa Games slated for Abuja, Nigeria, left the country Tuesday night (September 30  on board different flights.

The first left on British Airways and the second on Air France. The third is expected to leave on October 2.

Chef de mission Eric Arnephy, the managining director of the National Sports Council, also left Tuesday night.

The athletes were seen off last night at the Pointe Larue International Airport by Patrick Nanty, principal secretary for Sports and Culture in the Ministry of Local Government, Sports and Culture.

A record-breaking 53 participating countries and 6,000 athletes are to compete in Abuja.

The Seychelles delegation for this year's Games is 74, including 53 sportsmen and women five athletes, four badminton players, five boxers, four cyclists, two judokas, three swimmers, 24 male and female volleyballers and seven male and female weightlifters.

The number of athletes for the Abuja Games is six less than the total of 59 Seychelles sent to the seventh edition in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1999.

That year, Seychelles won eight medals two silver and six bronze.

The medallists were female weightlifter Sophia Vandagne (a silver and two bronze in the 58-kg category), male swimmers Benjamin Lo-Pinto (a silver in the 100-metre backstroke and two bronze in the 200-metre backstroke and 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay), Kenny Roberts (three bronze in the 200-metre individual medley, 400-metre individual medley and 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay), Jean-Paul Adam (a bronze in the 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay) and Barnsley Albert (a bronze in the 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay).

The medal haul in Johannesburg, the best the country had ever achieved in four previous participations in the Games in Algeria (1978), Kenya (1987), Egypt (1991) and Zimbabwe (1995), allowed Seychelles to finish in 22nd position on the medals tables. Only 35 out of the then record 51 participating countries won medals in Johannesburg.

The other Seychelles medallists at past editions of these multi-sports Games are former boxers Rival Cadeau (now Payet) (a bronze in 1987 in Kenya and a silver in 1995 in Zimbabwe after losing to Tunisian Marmouri Mohamed Salah in the 71-kg final), Roland Raforme (three bronze in 1987 in Kenya, 1991 in Egypt and 1995 in Zimbabwe), Robert Jean (a bronze in 1991 in Egypt) and former triple jumper Paul Nioze (a silver in 1991 in Egypt with a distance of 16.50 metres).

Local athletes, who will be participating in eight of the 22 sporting events at this year's Games which will run from October 4 to 18, will surely have a tough task on their hands. They will have to better the results of the last Games to help Seychelles take a commanding place on the final medals table.

The biggest achievement for the athletes selected to defend Seychelles' colours in the continent's biggest sporting event should, no doubt, be to improve on Nioze's, Cadeau's, Vandagne's and Lo-Pinto's silver medals.

Can Seychelles then win its first gold medal in Abuja?

 

G. G.

 

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