It got even better for team Nigeria on Day 4 of Athletics, as the country matched its performance of Day 3, with an additional three GOLDs to increase its medal tally at the ongoing 2015 All African Games in Congo Brazzaville.
Heptathlon, Long Jump and Discus were the events where the GOLDs came from, taking Nigeria’s haul to seven, to top the sport and inspire hope of what the nation can do on this stage.
After occasionally sharing leads in the Heptathlon, Nigeria’s Uhunoma Osazuwa put up a good display in her final event of 800m to guarantee a first place finish having trailed Benin’s Odile Ahouanwanou coming into that race. Osazuwa got the lead in the morning after winning the Long Jump with a mark of 6.05m, but one hour later Odile was back in front after taking the Javelin in 43.61m, as the Nigerian athlete finished 4th throwing a distance of 37.25m.
However, Osazuwa who last July set a new Personal Best (PB) and National Record (NR) of 6106 points to win the National title in Warri, ran a good race to finish 2nd and take her overall points to 5892, more than that of Ahouanwanou who took Silver in 5734 points. Burkina Faso’s Yasmine Koala won the bronze with 5664 points. Oluwakemi Francis who won the 800m in 2:18.83 finished 4th with 5428 points as Hope Idhe was 6th having gotten 5060 points.
Osazuwa’s winning points might not be up to her PB or even the 5951 points that she got at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, however she will be delighted having finished the season with a title.
Chinazom Amadi produced good performances, steering herself up as leapt to GOLD in the women’s Long Jump event with a mark of 6.31m. The national champion went into the lead with her first attempt, but Cameroon’s Joelle Mbumi Nkuindjin who had already won Triple Jump at these Championships, produced good displays also, even matching Amadi’s 6.31m but settling for Silver by just .03m.
In fact, Amadi had two 6.31m attempts, with one coming in her last jump, but Nkuindjin couldn’t alter the final outcome of proceedings as she drew a foul in her sixth jump. Algeria’s Romaissa Tahani Belabiod won Bronze leaping 6.30m in both her first and sixth jumps.
Commonwealth and African champion Ese Brume, didn’t not finish on the podium, having her best mark of 6.23m to finish 5th.
Claire Uke was all smiles as she paraded the arena draped in the national flag following her victory in the women’s Discus. Interestingly, Uke had just two throws scored as she committed fouls in the other four. The winning score came in her 3rd attempt, throwing a distance of 54.25m to win GOLD.
Uke’s gap to others was big and the closest to her was South Africa’s Ischke Senekal who had 50.53m to take the Silver. Ghana’s Julia Agawu won Bronze with a mark of 49.08m. The other Nigerian athlete in the Discus, Precious Ogunleye finished 4th throwing a distance of 48.18.
Nigerian athletes dominated their 200m heats with five of them booking spots in both the women and men’s categories. Divine Oduduru set new PBs in all two races, running 20.56s in the first round heats, and further lowered that in the semis winning his heat in 20.51s. Oduduru wasn’t the only one with a PB, Tega Odele who ran a PB of 20.47s at the National Trials in Warri, set a new one of 20.45s to win heat 5 in the first round. He finished 2nd in the semis with a time of 20.98s.
Obinna Metu overcame cramps to win both heats he ran in, with times of 20.72s and 20.55s respectively. He will be going up against his compatriots in the final as either of them hopes to get GOLD, but there is Ivory Coast’s Wilfried Koffi Hua to contend with.
Regina George despite running in the last heat of the 200m first round, did not start the semi-final, as it looked like she was being rested for the women’s 4x400m relay final. However, the duo of Ngozi Onwumere and Lawretta Ozoh both qualified for the final, clocking 23.53s and 23.47s respectively.
In the women’s 400m Hurdles, Nigeria remains the favourite for a 1-2, as Ajoke Odumosu look to retain her title, winning her heat in 57.31s. Amaka Ogoegbunam also won her heat, clocking 58.56s to set up a thrilling final against her countrywoman. Henry Okorie finished 7th in his 400m Hurdles, coming through on 50.01s. It was a 1-2 for Algeria as Abdelmalik Lahoulou won the GOLD, crossing the line in 48.64s, and Miloud Rahmani Silver in 49.27s. Tunisia’s Mohamed Sghaier was 3rd in 49.32s.
It has been a good outing by Team Nigeria in Athletics so far, and they would hope to add more medals in the remaining events of the Championships on Thursday.