The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state placed third at the end of the festival with 56 gold, 55 silver and 58 bronze medals, a feat it achieved for the first time in its history at the festival.
Receiving the contingent at the entrance of the Government House, Diri congratulated them for making the state proud by their spectacular performance.
Diri said it was heartwarming that they surpassed the previous fourth position record set in 2006 at the NSF in Abeokuta, Ogun when he was the Commissioner for Youth and Sports.
He urged the athletes to begin preparation for the next festival slated for Delta in 2022 and promised to give them the necessary support toward a better outing.
Diri described as inconsequential, unverified claims about the state being denied some medals over the state of origin and nationality of some its athletes.
He said its indigenes represented the state at the festival and there was no iota of truth in such claims.
“This is just the beginning. By coming third, you were presented a trophy of an eaglet. What that tells you is that you have to go for the eagle next time.
“So, preparation for the next festival resumes from tomorrow. That is the only way you will break your record again by next year when you go for the NSF in Delta.
“When you were about leaving, I gave you a charge. While I was commissioner for youth and sports between 2006 and 2007, we had a record. For the first time, Bayelsa clinched the fourth position at the NSF in Abeokuta.
“My charge to you was to break that record. Today you have made me proud by breaking that record. In the history of Bayelsa, you have come home with a trophy from the NSF.
“We shall announce a date when your government will formally receive you. For now, welcome back and congratulations to the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Daniel Igali, the Director of Sports, other officials, coaches and our great athletes,” he said.
Presenting the 300 athletes as well as the officials, Igali, said the state won gold in virtually every event it participated in.
According to Igali, Team Bayelsa surpassed the expectation of everyone, including his, that of the directors and management of the sports ministry.
He said that one of the female athletes, Ifiezibe Gagbe, singlehandedly won 8 gold, 2 silver and 5 bronze, totaling 15 medals in swimming.
The commissioner, who presented the trophy won by the contingent to the governor, said that the state was ready to surpass the feat in the next festival.
He thanked the governor for the massive support and motivation to the team before and during the games in Edo. (NAN)