After enduring a slow start to the 12th African Junior Championships, the medal rush began for Team Nigeria today as the country won FOUR GOLD MEDALS to soar past fierce rivals, South Africa and host, Ethiopia amongst others.
Theddus Okpara had won a the country’s first medal, a Silver in the men’s Long Jump event a day before and Oluwatobi Amusan consolidated on his performance by securing Nigeria’s first GOLD medal in the 100m Hurdles where she returned a time of 14.26s, while compatriot Temidayo Osinbanjo won Bronze in the same event with 14.58s. Egypt’s Lima Amr Ahmed was second in 14.48s.
The next event for Team Nigeria was the women’s 100m final which had two Nigerian contenders, Commonwealth Long Jump Champion, Ese Brume and Aniekeme Alphonsus in action. Brume, who was already warming up on the Triple Jump stretch had to hurriedly run to the track for the race, which was smoothly won by South Africa’s Tamzyn Thomas in 11.69s. Alphonsus took Silver in 11.83s while Brume had to settle for Bronze, having clocked 11.86s.
Tournament favourite, Divine Oduduru was in his element as he sped past his opponents who had no reply to his speed, taking the race in 10.44s and thereby recording the fastest time of the championship. Cote d’Ivoire’s Gue Arthur Cisse followed in 2nd place with a time of 10.63s while Sydney Siame of Zambia was 3rd in 10.77s. An overwhelmed Oduduru immediately displayed some dance steps much to the admiration of the fans at the Addis Ababa Stadium.
With this feat, Oduduru now holds the double title of African Youth and Junior 100m Champion. It remains to be seen if his performance in the 200m would see him emerge as African Youth and Junior Champion in the SPRINT DOUBLE. Worthy of mention is the fact he is the defending champion in the 200m, having won the title in Mauritius two years ago.
The medal rain continued for Nigeria in the women’s 400m as Oluwatosin Adeloye inspired a 1-2 finish for the country, with Esther Asamu following closely, while Tegest Tamangnu of the host country placed 3rd. They posted 54.09s and 55.11s respectively. In the men’s 400m, Adekunle Fasasi settled for Bronze in 46.84s behind Botswana’s Karabo Sibanda (46.33s) and Alexander Sampao of Kenya (46.54s). Sikiru Adeyemi placed 5th with 47.32s.
The high altitude in Ethiopia turned out to be Timothy Emeoghene’s nemesis in the men’s 400m Hurdles as he found it difficult to keep up with eventual winner, Larry Lombaard of South Africa (51.80s), Abebe Robi of Ethiopia (52.13s) and Avotrin Rakotoarimiandry of Madagascar (53.29s). Emeoghene narrowly missed out on a place on the podium in 4th place with a time of 53.67s.
However it was a perfect finish for Team Nigeria as Brume rallied round to give the Triple Jump her best shot, winning the event with 13.16m, which she secured on her very last attempt. The Nigerian initially led the pack with 12.87m in her second jump, but was later overtaken by Egypt’s Esraa Mohammed who made a leap of 12.90m on her fourth attempt and 13.04m in the fifth.
A tense atmosphere took over the Nigerian camp as they keenly followed the proceedings from the stands and offered moral support each time Brume had to take a jump. The Mauritius 2013 Triple Jump Silver Medallist fought to the very end, and was rewarded with her last effort. Celebration took over the Nigerian camp as the final results were announced. Another Nigerian, Uche Brown placed 6th in the event with a distance of 12.40m.
It was indeed an ideal ending for Team Nigeria on Day 2 of the African Junior Championships as the country finished top on the Medals Table with 4 GOLD, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze medals. South Africa is 2nd with 4 GOLD, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze while Ethiopia follows with 2 GOLD, 4 Silver, 4 Bronze medals. Egypt (2 GOLD,4 Silver, 1 Bronze) and Kenya (2 GOLD, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze) complete the leading countries on the table.