Sterling Performances by Temidayo Osinbanjo (Hepthatlon), Praise Idamadudu (200m Women), Divine Oduduru (200m Men), Ese Brume (Long Jump Women), Abdullahi Bashiru (110 Hudles) and the Women’s 4x400m relay team ensured that Nigeria’s campaign at the 12th African Junior Championships in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ended on a high.
The country moved to the top spot of the medals table on Day 2 and ended Day 3 with 6 GOLD medals. Six more GOLD medals were added on the final day as Nigeria retained its title from Mauritius 2013 with a total of 12 GOLD, 8 Silver and 7 Bronze medals ahead of South Africa (9 GOLD, 7 Silver, 7 Bronze), Ethiopia (6 GOLD, 12 Silver, 10 Bronze), Egypt (5 GOLD, 5 Silver, 3 Bronze) and Kenya (4 GOLD, 5 Silver, 3 Bronze).
Idamadudu picked her first GOLD of the championship in the women’s 200m, which she won with a time of 23.76s ahead of Ethiopia’s Tegest Tamangnu Yuma (23.84s) while team mate, Aniekeme Alphonsus (24.19s) won Bronze in addition to her 100m Silver medal.
Divine Oduduru inspired a 1-2 for Nigeria in the men’s race where he clocked 21.22s as Victor Peka won consolatory Silver in 21.53s after missing out in the 100m. Gilles Anthony Afoumba of Congo came third in 21.59s. His 200m GOLD is the third in his kitty (including GOLD medals in the 100m and 4x100m) and the Delta State athlete now holds the enviable position of Sprint DOUBLE Champion in both Youth and Junior categories.
Defending Champion in the women’s Long Jump, Ese Brume retained her title in style as she won the event with a Championship Record (CR) of 6.33m. This brings her tally of medals in the championship to FOUR (3 GOLD, 1 Bronze). Her team mate in the Long Jump, Mercy Abire took 4th in the event with a leap of 5.84m behind South Africa’s Carla Johnson (5.92m) and Esraa Mohamed (5.89m) of Egypt.
The 110 Hurdles GOLD also came to Nigeria courtesy of Abdullahi Bashiru. However it wasn’t an entirely smooth victory as Ifeanyichukwu Atuma, who initially came 2nd, was disqualified for beating the gun. The Youth Champion actually concluded the race and had already celebrated his 2nd position; however he was disallowed from collecting the Silver medal and the controversy surrounding this decision dampened the mood in the Nigerian camp.
However the victory of Temidayo Osinbanjo lifted the spirits of the team as she had been considered an unlikely candidate for GOLD in the Hepthatlon, which is not regarded as one of Nigeria’s strong areas. Osinbanjo posted 14.37s in the 100m hurdles, 1.57m in the High Jump, 9.51m in the Shot Put, 25.40s in the 200m, 5.66m in Long Jump, 26.48m in the Javelin Throw and 2:34.87s in the 800m, amassing a total of 4765 points. She was followed by Kaiqtion Kruquer of Namibia (4641points) and South Africa’s Nienka Du Toit of South Africa (4490points).
In the 4x400m, Esther Asamu, Yinka Ajayi, Idamadudu and Olowatosin Adeloye led Ethiopia and Kenya by a wide mark in 3:38.94s. Ethiopia came 2nd in 3:48.57s. However the Kenyans were eventually disqualified and no Bronze medal was awarded in the race. The men’s event was won by the Botswana team comprising of Karabo SIBANDA who won the 400m, Leungo Scotch, Unod Keetile and Vincent Basima who clocked 3:11.00s.
The South African country have confirmed their status as the continent’s best in the quartermile as they are also hold the title in the men’s 400m and 400m at senior level. Ethiopia followed closely in 3:11.19s, much to the delight of the home fans. The Nigerian team which included Omeiza Akerele, Adewale Sikiru, Abdulsalam Audu and Adekunle Fasasi fought hard but had to eventually settle for Bronze with a time of 3:11.20s.
Theddus Okpara was beaten to GOLD in the men’s High Jump by Algeria’s Hichem Bouhanoune who cleared 2.12m, while Mpho Links of South Africa made a leap of2.10m. Okpara who won Nigeria’s first medal of the tournament, a Silver in the Triple Jump, took Bronze with 2.06m, which is 4centimetres shy of his Personal Best.
Team Nigeria’s contenders in the women’s 400m Hurdles, Daisy Akpofa and Glory Nathaniel could not match the speed of Gizelle Magerman of South Africa who took the race in 59.41s, while the pair took Silver and Bronze respectively with 1:00.35s and 1:00.51s. Judith Anulika won Silver in the women’s Shot Put event (13.53m), which was won by South African, Monique Wagner (13.96m) while Kelechi Nwanaga also picked a Silver in the women’s Javelin Throw with a distance of 46.46m.
Ituah Enahoro ended his first outing for Nigeria with a 6th place finish in the Men’s Discus (42.91m), having finished with the same position in the Javelin, while grabbing Silver in the Pole vault. The competition was an eye-opener for the 17-year old who is based in the Netherlands and is looking forward to representing Nigeria in more competitions in future.