A new women’s 100m champion has emerged following the absence of Commonwealth double champion, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor at the ongoing National Championships in Warri. US-based Gloria Asumnu sprinted to her first 100m title on Thursday with a victory against a tough field that included the likes of Stephanie Kalu, Ngozi Onwumere, Deborah Odeyemi, Nkem Ezealah and Dominique Duncan.
She clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 11.42s ahead of Kalu (11.47s) and Odeyemi (11.66s) on Day 1 of the Nigerian Trials. This is a second consecutive victory for the sprinter who won the same event at the Warri Relays last week. However Asumnu’s time is still short of the qualifying mark for the forthcoming IAAF World Championships, and so she haboured mixed feelings over her win:
“My time doesn’t qualify me for the 100m in Beijing though I can run in the relays. I was constrained by the track because it is bumpy and not meant for a championship; it was windy as well, so these are not winning conditions. As you can see, no one has run fantastic times here so it kind of sucks. I will probably run in more meets in Europe”, she said.
Reigning African champion in the 110 Hurdles, Tyrone Akins reclaimed his national title in 13.68s, finishing ahead of Alex Al-Ameen (14.00s) and Martins Ogierakhi (14.13s). Akins said after the race, “It wasn’t quite the result I wanted but anytime you get a win, that’s a good thing. The race was pretty clean considering the conditions we ran in during the heats this morning”.
Lindsey Wenyime clinched her first Nigerian crown, taking the 100m Hurdles in 13.40s, with Oluwatobi Amusan & Grace Ayemoba following in 2nd and 3rd places respectively with 13.57s and 13.68s. 2014 Best performer in the women’s 800m this season, Abike Egbeniyi won her race in 2:07.50 while Abiye David followed in 2nd with 2:09.10 as Sirika Nwoke placed 3rd in 2:10.35.
It was a success story for Triple jumper Tosin Oke who finally qualified for the forthcoming World Championships after several trials in different meetings. The former Commonwealth champion retained his title with an SB of 16.98m, which was an improvement from his former mark of 16.83m which he recorded in Doha. Olamide Olamigoke took Silver with 16.80m.
Friday Osayande won the men’s Javelin with his throw of 68.33m with Golden League leader, Kure Samuel in 2nd with 66.32m while Kenechukwu Ezeofor placed 3rd (65.36m). Nwoye Augustine claimed the men’s Discus title with a throw of 51.21m, Kenechukwu Ezeofor (48.49m) and Samuel Olatunji (46.41m) finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Claire Uke emerged national champion in the women’s Discus with 50.91m. Precious Ogunleye took Silver with 48.32m while Celestina Efobi completed the podium with 40.59m. Adeyemi Kazeem won the men’s Final of the 20km race walk while Faustina Ogu led the pack in the women’s category.
Ese Brume was dethroned as Long Jump champion as she was out-leaped by rival Chinazom Amadi. Amadi who finished 2nd behind Brume at the 2014 African Championships exerted revenge, claiming her first national crown with a jump of 6.24m; the Commonwealth GOLD medallist who has an SB of 6.61m, played second fiddle with a jump of 6.14m. 17-year old Ruth Usoro was 3rd with 6.07m.
An excited Amadi said she was hoping to extend her dominance to the All-Africa games coming up in September. She said, “I feel great because this is my first time of winning the championship. I thank God because I worked for this victory; I believe in myself. I’m not happy that none of us has qualified for the World Championships.
“I can’t speak for others but on my part I’m not happy because I was expecting to jump higher than I did today but it didn’t come. I was targeting a 6.71m but I didn’t make it. The next move should be the All-Africa Games. I was in Algiers in 2007 where I finished 4th, but I know I’m going to make it this time around because I’m stronger; the past has gone and all that matters is the present.”
This is Usoro’s second time of competing in the National Trials and she is happy to be leaving Warri with a medal: “I think it is the grace of God. I’m very happy to have won Bronze because this is my first time of winning a medal at the National Trials. I made my debut last year where I finshed 8th, so coming 3rd is an improvement; it means my hardwork is not in vain.
“Last year I was scared, and to be sincere I cried because I was jumping with my seniors and didn’t know what to expect. But I had already done 6.08m coming here, so I wasn’t scared because I’m now a 6m jumper. Okagbare is my role model and I would have loved to have gone against her here because it would have spurred me to jump higher. I expect to do a 6.20m before the end of the season.”
The men’s 100m Heats was a tight affair, and the final on Friday is expected to be an explosive race. Obinna Metu and Ogho-Oghene Egwero rekindled their rivalry in Heat 1, with the former taking the race in 10.31s as the latter followed in 10.32s. Seye Ogunlewe took Heat 2 with 10.35s as Tega Odele followed with 10.36s. Jonathan Nmaju(10.38s) won Heat 3 while Nicholas Imhoaperamhe(10.52s) dominated Heat 4.
There were three heats in the men’s 400m but in reality, the event was a battle between two athletes: National Sports Festival (NSF) champion Orukpe Erayokan and emerging talent Nathaniel Samson. Samson defeated Erayokan in the final leg of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Golden League, ending Erayokan’s unbeaten run in 2015.
It was not surprising that the duo led their heats, clocking Personal Bests (PB) in the process. Robert Simmons won Heat 1 in 46.89s as Samson returned the fastest time in the entire field, posting 46.10s in Heat 2 as Orukpe won Heat 3 with a lifetime best of 46.12s. In the women’s event, Patience Okon George won Heat 1 in 51.79s ahead of Tosin Adeloye while Regina George took Heat 2 in 52.42s .
Tomorrow’s final is also expected to be a two-horse race between Okon George and Regina, with Adeloye hoping to spring a surprise. However Regina didn’t sound too enthusiastic when Making of Champions caught up with her after the heats. She said, “Of course I will always want to reclaim my title, but this is all I can give right now; it’s been a tough year for me so I’m just trying to make it.
“Nigeria cut my funds In the middle of the season so I’m trying to find ways to pay my coach, my rent and so on; this has made things really hard for me this season. I’m just trying to do what I can do this year, but this all I have. I don’t have any thoughts towards the World Championships; I’m just taking it day by day.”
Other events to watch out for on Day 2 of competition include the finals of the men and women’s 200m, men and women’s 400m Hurdles, men’s Long Jump, women’s Triple Jump and the men and women’s High Jump amongst others.