Reigning National Sports Festival (NSF) 400m champion, Orukpe Erayokan has left no one in doubt as to his ability to do a sub-46 this season. He looks set for this feat after winning his race with a Personal Best (PB) of 46.13s at the 2nd leg of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Golden League held at the Abuja National Stadium on Saturday.
The quartermiler has been the most consistent runner in his event this year and is yet to lose a race on the domestic front, starting with the 1st All-Comers Meeting held in Abuja in March where he clocked 46.38s, before lowering his time to 46.23s at the 1st leg of the Golden League in Anambra State two weeks ago.
Erayokan had a slow start but quickly bridged the gap within the first 100m, before overtaking the rest of the field. However the fans had to lend their support to his cause after he appeared to slow down while approaching the home straight, with Samson Nathaniel in hot pursuit. He picked up his speed and completed the race ahead of the others, with Samson following in 46.49s, while Noah Akwu placed 3rd with 46.74s.
He said, “I am very happy with my time and grateful to the fans who supported me, because everyone has been waiting for me to better my time. My coach is going to do his best to ensure I maintain my form ahead of the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, but I’m going for a 45 at the next Golden League. I’m not scared of the foreign based athletes; I’m waiting for them. They have two legs and so do I; I believe they are beatable.”
Nicholas Imhoaperamhe set a PB of 10.23s at the Rojenny Stadium two weeks ago and was expected to lower his time in Abuja. This did not seem to be in agenda as he clocked 10.36s to win the men’s 100m ahead of African Junior champion, Divine Oduduru (10.40s), who was followed by David Sule (10.50s) and Victor Peka (10.58s).
It was a hard-fought victory for Nkem Ezealah as she denied Isoken Igbinosun a second Golden League title, taking the race in 11.61s while Igbinosun followed in 11.70s. Justina Sule placed 3rd with 11.71s. Tosin Adeloye won the women’s 400m in 52.48s, with Rita Ossai taking 2nd in 53.40s, while Folashade Olotu placed 3rd with 53.90s.
Grace Ayemoba emerged winner of the women’s 100m Hurdles with a time of 13.56s ahead of Kemi Francis (13.76s) and African Junior Championships Silver medallist, Temidayo Oshinbajo who posted 13.95s. Samuel Okon won the 110 Hurdles with 14.08s. He was followed by African Championships Bronze medallist, Martins Ogierakhi (14.37s), with Wisdom Benjamin coming 3rd in 14.56s while African Junior champion, Bashiru Abdullahi had to settle for 4th place with 14.60s.
The men’s 200m event comprised of three heats but it was Oduduru that produced the fastest time, taking Heat 2 in 20.80s. Tamunotonye Briggs dominated Heat 1 in 21.41s while Victor Peka led Heat 3 with a time of 21.43s. Cecelia Francis took Heat 1 of the women’s event in 24.10s while Igbinosun won Heat 2 with a time of 23.83s.
A new winner emerged in the women’s Long Jump in the person of Euphemia Edem. The US-based athlete won her first Golden League event with a distance of 6.48m, with African Championships Silver medallist, Chinazom Amadi posting 6.38m while winner of the Triple Jump, Hope Idhe settled for 3rd place with 6.05m. African and Commonwealth champion, Ese Brume did not compete at the meeting.
The jumper, who has been away for almost four years, is on break in Nigeria. The Tarleton State University senior won the Long Jump at the NCAA Division II National Championships about a month ago, setting a PB of 6.56m and breaking the 31-year-old record of 6.45m, making her the first female national champion in the history of her school.
She said, “My coach heard about the Golden League and suggested that I compete, so he could assess my fitness levels because I’ve been on break. I’m happy with my performance and was supposed to leave early next month, but I just heard that the National Trials will be next month so I’ll try and stay till then. I will definitely do better in Calabar.”
National Record holder in the women’s Triple Jump, Chinonye Ohadugha made a return after several years on the sidelines. The jumper set the NR of 14.21m in 2007 at the All-Africa Games but was a shadow of herself in Abuja, finishing 4th with 11.96m in the event that was won by Idhe with 13.40m, as Blessing Ibrahim followed with 13.32m.
Oluwatoyin Oladimeji won the men’s Long Jump with 7.71m while former National Champion, Shola Anota made a return with 7.64m, as Babajide Okulaja placed 3rd with 7.56m. Adams Kure took the men’s Javelin throw with a distance of 70.21m as Kenechukwu Ezeofor and Friday Osayande placed 2nd and 3rd respectively with 64.24m and 61.52m respectively.
It was double victory for the NSCDC in the men and women’s 4x100m event. Imhoaperamhe anchored the men’s team to the title with a time of 39.81s, with favourites, the Police coming 2nd in 40.09s. The Customs placed 3rd (40.46s) while Esteem Athletics Club settled for 4th place with 42.45s. The CDA and Customs took 2nd and 3rd respectively in the women’s event.