It was a wet but happy morning for Kaduna state born Emmanuel Gyang at the 2014 Lagos Beach Marathon as he easily defended his title when he crossed the finish line in the 10km race ahead of eighty-five other athletes in a time of 38 minutes.
Speaking to Making of Champions (MoC) before his race, Gyang said his aim was to defend his title and improve on his time from last year, knowing there would be stiffer competition this year with the bar of the competition being raised. Gyang, who came alongside his elder brother and training partner, Danjuma, added that he would be much happier if they both got to win something at the competition.
The race started at 10am, 2 hours behind schedule, perhaps as a result of a heavy downpour of rain. The Special Guest of Honour, the Eti-Osa Local Government Chairman, Honourable Olanrewaju Elegushi flagged off the event by starting the race with the athletes, but pulling out 20 seconds into the race, jokingly saying the athletes didn’t wait for him.
The president and organizer of the event, Barrister Philips Ogbuesi stated that this year’s edition had been challenging because most people and organizations would not sponsor or partner with them due to their belief that most organisers of such events in Nigeria often fail to put up a show to match the standards promised. He added that the economic situation of the country has not helped matters.
On the low turn-out of participants at an event where over 400 participants were expected, Barrister Ogbuesi said the rain may have been a major factor. He also added that the number of officials had increased from twenty-five last year to thirty-eight this year, most of whom were from the Lagos State Amateur Athletics Association (AAA).
He said, “The vision is to give room for growth, which would allow the presentation of these athletes on the international scene, and also allow international athletes to come and participate in about two years’ time. It’s the first and only beach marathon race in the country, and our passion is to promote peace and unity amongst Nigerian youths through engaging them in different sporting activities.”
There was some drama in the female category, as the winner, Olamide Oluwaseun was disqualified for bridging the rules (allegedly running outside of the agreed course) – she misses out on her first win, after coming third in the two previous editions. Her disqualification meant the first runner-up Muibat Ogunkoya, a cousin to former Nigerian 400m queen, Falilat Ogunkoya, became the winner while third placed Olumudi Aderonke, was promoted to the second position.
Still panting after her race, Aderonke said she was very happy to have won something from the race, because this was her first time of competing at a beach marathon race.
“I have come third twice and second once at the Obudu mountain race. I also represented the country last year in China at a half-marathon where I won the 10km.” She also has competed in the 10,000m at the 2012 National Sports Festival, where she came 10th representing Delta State.
Other sport icons present at the event were Nigeria’s first female National Coach Amelia Edet (retired), Technical Director of Lagos State Amateur Athletics Association (AAA), Mr. Tony Osheku, Nigeria’s former (2013) 400m champion, Noah Akwu, and some members of the AAA.
Dancers, musicians and comedians were also there to entertain the guests and athletes after the race. In this third edition of the event, the prize money listed for the winner was raised from ₦75,000 last year to ₦100,000, while the first and second runners-up are to pocket ₦50,000 and ₦25,000 respectively.
The Lagos International Beach Marathon is used to mark Nigeria’s yearly independence as a country and also create awareness on the scourge of cervical cancer amongst Nigerian women. Another objective of the race is to provide a new platform for sports, recreation, tourism and charity as a vehicle for peace building. The event was organized by the Community Agenda for Peace in collaboration with the Combat Cervical Cancer.