All Team Nigeria athletes in action on Day 1 of Athletics at the ongoing 2015 All African Games, had good outings in their respective events as they secured passages into the next round.
With only one athlete entered by Nigeria for the women’s 100m, Cecilia Francis made sure her country will have a representative in the final, placing 2nd in her semi-final heat with a time of 11.60s to qualify for the final. In the first round, Francis ran the second fastest time of 11.56s behind Ivory Coast’s Marie Josee Talou who ran 11.04s to win. The Ivorian went on to win her semi-final race with a time of 11.07s.
If there was just one Nigerian in the women’s 100m, there were three in the men’s category and they all made the final. After their race was delayed following two false starts, former National champion, Ogho-Oghene Egwero went on to win heat 2 of the 100m semis, clocking 10.06s to post the fastest time of the night. Egwero with that result, matched his Personal Best (PB) set in 2011 at the Maputo All African Games. Nigeria’s Deji Aliu still holds the Championship Record of 9.95s that won him the GOLD in Abuja during the 2003 All African Games.
Despite having a poor a start, Nicholas Imhoaperamhe did recovered to place 2nd in 10.39s, behind Ben Youssef Meite who won in 10.16s. National Champion Seye Ogunlewe qualified as one of the fastest losers, having finished 3rd in the final heat with a time of 10.35s.
One of the success stories recorded by a Team Nigerian athlete was that of Erayokan Orukpe who for the first time ran below sub 46s in the 400m. Orupke went out hard and maintained the momentum to finish 2nd in 45.84s, with Botswana’s Nkobolo Onkabetse winning in 45.46s.
Two other Nigerians qualified alongside Orukpe for the semifinals, Nathaniel Oghenewegba Samson finished 2nd in his race with a time of 46.24, and Robert Simmonson also through clocking 46.60s in the final heat that had former African Record holder, Isaac Makwala who won in 45.63s.
There was no Regina George in the women’s 400m, however two of her 4x400m teammates at the Beijing 2015 World Championships: Patience Okon George and Oluwatosin Adeloye all competed and qualified. Okon George, the National 400m Champion, didn’t push herself too much in the third heat of the first round, winning with a time of 52.87s. Adeloye had the second fastest time of 51.86, finishing 2nd in the same heat as 2014 African Championships Silver medallist, Zambia’s Kabange Mupopo who ran the fastest time of 51.19s.
Margaret Etim also made it through to the semi-finals, finishing 2nd in her heat with a time of 53.18s.
Tyrone Akins won the first heat in the men’s 110m Hurdles, overcoming a bad start after hitting the first two barriers and coming through in 13.86s. However, his compatriot Al-Ameen was harshly disqualified as replays showed that he didn’t commit a false start, with officials refusing to yield to his pleas.
Having competed in five Decathlon events, Peter Moreno won two of them to lead the standings. 100m (10.95s) and 400m (48.39s). He finished 6th in the Long Jump with 6.70m, then 3rd in the Shot Put throwing 13.07m and 4th in the High Jump with a clearance of 1.88m. Moreno will be hoping to consolidate on his lead of 3953 points with his other events on Monday.
Ibukun Blessing Ibrahim won Silver in the women’s Triple Jump, leaping 13.52m on the night. Ibrahim recorded the mark in her very first attempt which had put her in the lead, but Cameroon’s Joelle Mbumi Nkuindjin overhauled her to take the GOLD with her 13.75m mark.
It was a good outing for Nigerian athletes on Day 1, and they will be hoping to replicate the performances on Day 2 as the medals starts trickling in.