Peter Tega Odele became the new 200m national champion on Friday after defeating favourites, celebrating in an effusive way when he crossed the finish line in a new Personal Best (PB) of 20.47s. Winning a race is another thing, but beating the likes of Obinna Metu who finished 2nd in 20.57s and also Ogho-Oghene Egwero who was 3rd in 20.60s, was one of the upsets recorded at the 2015 National Championships in Warri.
Odele shouted for joy, screamed to the heavens in ecstasy as he was confounded when he looked at the time-board in disbelief noticing what times he had posted in the race, and also running a National Lead.
By becoming Nigeria’s fastest time over that distance this year, he has now made the qualification mark for the 2015 World Championships taking place next month in Beijing, China.
With Divine Oduduru missing the race due to an illness, not many expected Metu and Egwero to be ruffled. However the day belonged to the Business Administration student from the University of Benin, who got off the blocks with a good reaction, running a perfect bend that saw him go past Egwero after the second curve, moving in on shoulders’ length with Metu as he eluded him in the home stretch.
“I have not been able to find the right word, but I am happy, I feel very happy,” an excited Tega told Making of Champions after getting his winners medal.
However, Tega told us that he knew before the race that he would emerge victorious. “I knew I was going to beat them (Metu and Egwero) I was very sure that I will beat them, but I didn’t know the time I was going to run.”
“I had the second fastest time coming into this competition and then I have been running very fast. I had in mind of winning but I was not so sure what I was going to come up with. I have been running very fast in practice. When I saw that the times were coming up in practice, I knew I was ready.”
If the men’s race got spectators on their feet, the women’s 200m produced even the biggest upset as Praise Idamadudu was the surprise winner, running a PB to win with a time of 23.48s. She came from behind to storm to victory, making the arena go into a frenzy when she defeated the foreign based duo of Ngozi Onwumere and Gloria Asumnu who both finished in 2nd and 3rd, clocking 23.53s and 23.74s respectively. The stadium erupted into joyous scenes and Idamadudu enjoyed enormous support from fans who rooted for her, especially she is from the locality where the trials were held.
The outcome of the race was one with a bit of controversy as Onwumere crossed into another lane, telling us after the race that Idamadudu crossed into hers which led into her own error, saying: “The race was all over the place, it was not well worked together. When I got off the blocks I didn’t secure my hair very well, so it was all over my face. Then when I got to the turn, another girl, the winner was in my lane.”
“The race altogether was a bit messy,” she added. In her defence on why she crossed, Onwumere said: “I crossed because she was in my lane, I had no choice other than to get to three. So she moved to four, I was in three, but congratulations to her (Idamadudu) it was a good race from her.”
Talking about her victory and if she expected she would cross the finish line before any other athletes, Idamadudu said: I never expected to win the 200m, because all of them there are my seniors. I never expected that the 200m will be mine.
“For me to defeat a foreign based athlete shows that the training I am doing now is not a waste” an excited Idamadudu added.
Both 200m races got postponed from the morning session to the evening, leaving people anticipating a good climax to the Nigerian Athletics trials. At the end of the day, the outcome of the races were well worth the wait.