Nigeria retained the top spot at the end of Day 3 of the on-going African Junior Athletics Championships in Addis Ababa, courtesy of two last minute GOLD medals in the men and women’s 4x100m relays which were the last events for the day.

The quartet of Aniekeme Alphonsus, Omotayo Abolaji, Blessing Adiakerehwa and Ese Brume were in perfect sync and carried out a seamless baton exchange in the race which saw them erase the former 18-year old Championship Record (CR) of 45.73s, replacing it with a new one of 44.83s. They were followed by South Africa and Ethiopia which posted 46.49s and 48.30s respectively.

Their male team broke the 40s barrier in their event.
The men’s 4x100m team broke the 40s barrier in their event.

Second leg runner, Abolaji put up a spectacular performance in what happened to be her first and last race of the championship, perhaps as a statement for being left out of the 100m flat. The Kwara State athlete won the Youth Category of the 100m at the National Trials for the African Juniors.

The men’s 4x100m team comprising of Thankgod Igube, Victor Peka, Chukwudi Olisakwe and Divine Oduduru also impressed as they broke the 40s barrier with a time of 39.99s to win the event ahead of Botswana (40.95s) and South Africa (41.46s). The heats of the men’s 4x100m took place earlier in the day where Nigeria won narrowly in 40.52s ahead of the Gambia (40.53s) and Kenya (42.19s), while Cote d’Ivoire dominated Heat 2.

Divine Oduduru ruled the 200m the same way he did the 100m.
Divine Oduduru ruled the 200m the same way he did the 100m.
Victor Peka is aiming for a medal in the 200m.
Victor Peka is aiming for a medal in the 200m.

The pair of Peka and Oduduru also ruled the heats of the men’s 200m, posting 21.45s and 20.93s respectively. Oduduru, who is also the defending champion of the event, bettered his time to 20.86s in the semis, which he won ahead of Ethiopia’s Gezahegn Ababu Feleke (21.47s) and Congo’s Giles Anthony Afoumba (21.54s). Peka clocked 21.70s to win his semis. Praise Idamadudu and Alphonsus qualified for the women’s 200m final after placing 1st and 2nd in their respective heats.

Temidayo Osinbanjo who competes in the hepthatlon, participated in four of her seven events and was leading the standings at the end of the day with 2975 points. She ran a time of 14.37s in the 100m hurdles, 25.40s in the 200m, made a leap of 1.57m in the High Jump and a throw of 9.51m in the Shot Put. Next to her is South Africa’s Nienka Du Toit (2946points) and Kaiqtion Kruquer) of Namibia with 2900 points.

Praise Idamadudu is a top contender for GOLD in the women’s 200m.
Praise Idamadudu is a top contender for GOLD in the women’s 200m.

The first medal of the day was won by Ituah Enahoro who is competing for Nigeria for the first time. The Netherlands-based athlete was initially billed to compete in the Decathlon, but had to settle for the Pole Vault, Discus and Javelin throws after the event was scrapped due to inadequate entries.
The 17-year old first participated in the Pole Vault where he set a Personal Best (PB) of 4.10m and won Silver behind Tunisia’s Seifeddine Mejri who came to the Championship with a PB of 4.80m, but won the GOLD with 4.40m. Moustafa Mohamed of Egypt took Bronze with a distance of 3.50m.

Enahoro went on to compete in the Javelin throw about an hour later but had to settle for 6th place which he secured with another PB of 52.71m. The Javelin throw was won by Egypt’s Bahaa Sherif Khalil with a distance of 70.09m. Enahoro will compete in the Discus throw on Day 4 of the competition.

Ituah Enahoro secured his first medal for Nigeria in the Pole Vault.
Ituah Enahoro secured his first medal for Nigeria in the Pole Vault.

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Reigning African Youth Champion in the 110 Hurdles, Ifeanyichukwu Atuma recorded the fastest time of 13.61s to win Heat 1 of his event while team mate, Abdullahi Bashiru took Heat 2 in 13.61s. Both athletes are set for the final which comes up later today and are hopeful of making it to the podium.

It was not a fantastic outing for Grace Anigbata who is making her first appearance at an international championship. The High Jumper who won the National Trials with a leap of 1.65m, and recorded an improved performance of 1.70m at the Sagamu camp finished a distant 8th with a jump of 1.60m. It was a 1-2 for South Africa in the event as Marlize Higgins and Julia Du Plessis took GOLD and Silver with 1.80mand 1.75m respectively.

Abdullahi Bashiru leads Heat 2 of the 110 Hurdles.
Abdullahi Bashiru leads Heat 2 of the 110 Hurdles.

Nigeria retained the top spot at the end of Day 3 with 6 GOLD, 4 Silver, 3 Bronze, closely followed by South Africa (5 GOLD, 5 Silver, 4 Bronze) and Egypt (5 GOLD, 4 Silver, 2 Bronze). The host country Ethiopia is 4th with 4 GOLD, 7 Silver, 6 Bronze while Kenya comes 5th with 2 GOLD, 3 Silver, 1 Bronze medal.

Team Nigeria will compete in at least 12 events on the final day of competition at the Addis Ababa Stadium. They include the Hepthatlon, Men and Women’s 200m, Men’s Discus Throw, Women’s Shotput and Javelin Throws, Women’s Long Jump, Men’s High Jump, 110 Hurdles, Women’s 400m Hurdles and the Men and Women’s 4x400m relays.

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. She has a bias for athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the National Sports Festival and the African Athletics Championships, and has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). Yemi holds a BA in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University .

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