Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has revealed that no fewer than 150,000 athletes both locally and internationally are expected to participate in the 4th edition of Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
The 2019 Lagos City, Access Bank marathon will take place on February 2, 2019, with the State government planning to upgrade it from a bronze label event to a silver label one by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).
Ambode while addressing a Press conference at Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja to officially announce the commencement of preparations for the Lagos marathon said the last three editions have seen about 100,00 and 120,00 participants.
He said, “The whole idea is to turn the competition from bronze to silver level. In the last three editions, we had between 100,000 and 120,000 participants. This time around, we want to make sure that come February 2019, we would have not less than 150,000 participants at the Lagos Marathon.
“The reason why we want to take it to that level is to create a new record and create a new platform to allow the 2019 edition to herald what is going to happen in the next six years. We believe strongly that in another six years when we are marking the 10th anniversary, we should actually become a top class marathon, and that is our vision for this competition.
“We believe that it is achievable. This is not necessarily about me; it is not even about the sponsors but about making Lagos be on that top brand across the world and that is how cities are elevated to become a global brand,” Governor Ambode said.
“We think obviously that we should pay more attention to our physically-challenged athletes this time around and also to embrace more of local participation.
This time around, we would push more money to the local races and we would push more money to also our physically-challenged athletes to encourage more people to come in, while the main prize remains the same,”
“Looking at some of Nigeria’s sports legends here, it just summarizes everything that we have tried to do in the last three and half years.
The idea is that it is possible to create a new set of jobs and services using sports, using hospitality, using entertainment to create a new level of creativity and innovation and then drive the Nigerian economy into different direction that creates positive energy, and when you come to this kind of gathering and you are able to now see the private sector, sports people, it means that there is still hope in this country,” Governor Ambode said.
Present at the press conference were Olympic gold medalist, Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe, Mary Onyali, Ex-Super Eagles player, Samson Siasia, Waheed Akanni, Seye Ogunlewe and the Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr Kweku Tandoh.