*You have started a movement we are proud of – Boma Iyaye
By Olajide Fashikun, Port Harcourt
Certainly, this must be the best private sports event in Rivers state with the fun, gaiety, and bond exhibited by the Steady Run PH team in welcoming two of Nigeria’s successful Olympians, Enefiok Udo-Obong and Chief Mary Onyali as part of the prelude to the well advertised and planned road race.
The reception at the airport was exceptional and star-studded. Miss Soso Membere who was well attired in an African dress with beads on her head was made to present a bouquet of flowers for the guests upon arrival in a well followed airport reception. The crowd to welcome the team was outstanding dressed in unique outfits to showcase their majesterial presence and appreciation of the visiting teams who arrived from Lagos and Abuja.
From the airport, the visitors went on the courtesy visit to the Commissioner for Sports, Boni Iyaye, who hosted the guests in his office.
Giving a prelude, Steady Idisi thanked the Commissioner for his massive support. Added is the fact that “Rivers state will be 50 years in a couple of days to come. This initiative started as a private initiative. It took one and two others to join me and today, we have grown geometrically in less than six months to more than 250 members who every Sunday has joined me to make our health and exercise the biggest event in the city.”
Idisi added that, “on Friday is a workshop where Chief Onyali is addressing the state in an interactive forum. Then, on Saturday, there is going to be a novelty walk and on Sunday, we shall be embarking on charity activities as a team.
“About six months ago, I started running alone and today, we are here.” He thanked the Commissioner for the support he has offered the Team.
The motto of Steady Run PH is Team No Excuse. There is no reason why people should not undertake some level of exercise to remain fit, strong, healthy and above all enjoy some camaraderie in the process.”
“Port Harcourt has suffered a bit of political colouration, we brought something new and positive. Our dream was to bring the commissioner who in his humility has joined the team and we are so proud of him. We want to turn Rivers state to a hub of marathon. We choose different routes and even run in communities, we want to showcase Port Harcourt.
Speaking, Chief Onyali said, “Rivers has always been the house of sports. We are so happy with what Steady Idisi and his team members are doing with this programme under a great political climate.
The five-time Olympian added, “Sports is a universal language. Everybody loves to do it. I did not hesitate to support him when he called on me. I want to be a part of this because he has done a great thing. As a movement, I call on all citizens of the state to join Steady Run PH. For me, I am giving him a 150% support.”
Udo-Obong, the Sydney Olympics 4x400m gold medallist recalled when he went for a programme in Switzerland. People run for free but I told them I run for money. When I see Steady Run PH members run for free, I wonder what is chasing them. He called me and told me what he wants to do, I could not hesitate to join and support him. Like Mary, we are few with two Olympic medals. I am the only one in 170m Nigerians to have done this Olympic multi medal event.
“This event will send a message to the world that Port Harcourt is safe, sweet and a home for exercise.
Iyaye said, “on behalf of the River state government we welcome you. Steady Idisi has become a household name in the state, we thank him for this great concept. We gave him all the support. Like a joke, he started and suddenly, what he began has turned into this movement which is growing. Steady, you have done well. We are proud of you. It is a culture you have initiated in Port Harcourt.
“Exercise makes us all alive and healthy. We can’t join the run but we shall join the walk. It is exciting you have brought to Port Harcourt two great Olympians which can influence the young generation to emulate them. You might not understand the movement you have started but you have started a legendary project. We shall support you. Please make this an annual event.
“As part of the 50 years anniversary of the state, we shall give you a marathon in November. We want to encourage our indigenes to strive in what they are doing. If for the price of health and friendship we make from this movement, it is worth the exercise. Please intensify the Steady Run PH initiative, it is the biggest and natural drug against diseases.
The Commissioner assured the visitors that, “Port Harcourt is safe. The media hype during the elections has given our city a new name which is not true. Since you arrived, have you heard a single gun shot? I run my office and go anywhere without security. The Garden City is a safe haven and the people who live here can testify to that fact.”
The arrival day was rounded up with a rapport with journalists. A dinner followed suit. Mr Patrick Abiye who coordinated the event told www.gongnews.net that, “we have worked so hard ahead of this event and the opening day came without hitch. We tried to live up to our motto: Team No Excuse and I am glad every member of the crew delivered satisfactorily.