Wau in shambles as National athletics games end in fight
By David Mono Danga
Wau town is left in chaos as Jubek and Gogrial states fight over ownership of the overall championship cup.
This confusion came after the organizing committee of the national athletics federation prematurely announced Kuajok, Gogrial state as winner of the overall games on Friday evening before the final results were compiled and announced Saturday morning.
According to the overall ranking statistics released by the technical personnel, both teams won 6 Gold Medals but Jubek had won more Silver Medals (8) than Gogrial (2). The athletes from Juba won 16 medals all together. While, Gogrial won a total of 11 medals.
Despite this, the athletes and officials from Gogrial state refused to return the trophy which was wrongly handed to them before the final results.
Some Gogrial athletes vowed to protect the trophy by all means. Indeed they did. Joseph Akoon Akoon, one of the athletes representing the state said athletes from Gogrial have been cheated on several occasions that’s why they are not returning the trophy.
The state athletics federation stood by the decision. One official whose name is held for fear of reprisal from the national athletics federation, said the organizing committee should buy another trophy to give Jubek State.
“If they want to take our trophy, let them go to our Governor who informed and is expecting us to go home with the overall winner’s trophy. Or they can get another trophy.”
“That’s the only way to cover up their mess,” she added despite apologies from the Secretary General of the national federation, Marko Akol.
“We are asking the federations of Gogrial and Wau to return the trophies to be handed over to Jubek State,” Marco’s plea to the Gogrial federation to return the trophy to the rightful owners fell on deaf ears.
Akol told Juba Monitor that the federation had ordered for another trophy which was handed to Jubek State at Wau Airport yesterday on their way back to the capital Juba.
The chairman of the organizing committee, Joseph Ramadan admitted it was the organizers’ blunder to have announced wrong state, Gogrial, as champions.
“Let’s do corrections. There is no human being who cannot make a mistake,” Ramandan said at the University of Bhar El Ghazal where the second awarding ceremony was held Saturday morning.
In the initially, games were supposedly to run for three days but the chairperson of the federation, Samir Khamis, who also doubles as the Mayor of Juba City Council ordered the organizing committee to conduct all the activities within just two days.
The compressed reschedule led to the mistakes that happened due to limited time to compile the final results, says the organizing committee. Since the games ended late on Friday evening, commentators were forced to use touches to announce results due to lack of lights at the Wau Stadium. These they said led to multiple errors.
Team Jubek and team Gogrial are not the only teams implicated in the athletics competition. Wau women who were initially announced the best women’s team, were asked to return the trophy to the federation to be given to Jubek women who emerged 1st in the women’s category.
This was like adding salt to an open wound. It made the Wau team who were outstanding in the short races, angrier and more furious. Wau sprinters; Lucia William, Zenab Musa, Eveline Louis and Bakhita John were not happy throughout the competition, especially after the organizing committee asked for a repeat of the 100m hit one on Friday yet Lucia William had won it on Thursday with a great margin of 0.59 micro seconds.
Although the results still favoured the fastest woman in this country, the incident slayed her moral as she looked unhappy despite winning all the races she participated in the 100 and 200 meters.
As if this was not enough, one of the officials placed one of the Wau sprinters, Zenab Musa, on a different tuck during the 100X4 relays, making Wau to lose a precious Gold in this category given the gap Lucia William had opened.
This incident made Zenab Musa, Eveline Louis and Bakhita John to shed tears throughout the competition and some boycotted the awarding ceremony by either returning medals to the MCs or not turning up for the awards. Multiple athletes missed medals and a couple more received fake ones.
Lucia William who won the best female runner of the first national athletics competition said the title makes her feel happy but it would be meaningless if sports divided people on tribal lines, the way it does in the country.
She advised the athletes to desist from tribalism and devour hatred towards fellow athletes. The 15 – year-old sprinter and Gold medalist said she wanted to interact with athletes from the other states freely but was always treated with scorn. This demoralized her, she said.
Thiel Deng, who ran for Aweil state seconded Lucia’s row. He said corruption and tribalism should not be incorporated into sports because it’s only the country that will lose in the end.
Deng is a record holder in the 400m men’s category running for just 51.08 seconds. He set a new record beating Joseph Akoon Akoon, who is set to go and camp and train in Mombaci town of Japan this month ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Deng was one of the four athletes selected to camp and train in Japan, but his name disappeared mysteriously and suddenly from the list. Nn reasons were given for his termination, not even the South Sudan National Olympic Committee (SSNOC) despite the various press conferences they organized.
Just like Thiel Deng, Lucia William is also a record holder, breaking her own previous records in the 100 and 200 meters category. She ran for only 12.45 seconds and for 26.07 seconds respectively.
Despite all this mischief, Wau athletics federation returned the trophy which was wrongly awarded to them.
Abdulrahuman Selif, The president of the Wau Athletics Federation handed back the trophy to the organizers, saying there is no need to keep it if it belonged to another team. He said South Sudan does not embrace talent.
This is the first national athletics competition organized by the South Sudan Athletics Federation (SSAF). This is part of the country’s preparation for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Only six states out of the 32 participated in this year’s competition.