Top Nigerian finishers at the 2016 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Philibus Sharubutu and Dinatu Yohanna have been entered for the forthcoming Schneider Electric Paris Marathon slated to hold on April 3 in the French capital. The duo will be sponsored by Schneider Electric Nigeria.
This was announced at a press conference held in Lagos on Tuesday, February 23. In attendance were the Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission Deji Tinubu; President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba, and representative of Scheider Electric Nigeria, Mrs Anne Ezeh amongst others.
Sharubutu was the first Nigerian male athlete to cross the finishing line at the Lagos City Marathon which took place earlier this month. Yohanna was the 2nd Nigerian woman to finish the race but was chosen for the trip to Paris ahead of 18-year old Olamide Oluwaseun who finished 1st, because the latter is yet to attain the stipulated age of 20 according to Paris Marathon Rules.
Speaking on behalf of Schneider Electric Nigeria, Ezeh said, “We are a global brand but local in our relationship with our community and stakeholders. With this gesture, we are reinforcing our commitment to Lagos State and the general public. We also want these athletes to gain much needed experience and share same with their colleagues.”
While appreciating the corporate body for their support, AFN President Ogba stated that Sharubutu and Oluwaseun will participate in the IAAF World Half Marathon holding in Cardiff in March. Also, he revealed that the Nigerian Army will sponsor its team as well as Sharubutu to the African Cross Country Championships in Yaounde, Cameroon.
While speaking with reporters, Sharubutu disclosed that he was planning to change his training location in preparation for the Paris Marathon.
He said: “Usually I train in Jos, but after I was told that I would be going to Paris, I called my coach to tell him that I would want him to take me to train on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State where the altitude is higher.
“It’s not a new thing to be called upon to run in an international competition, because I’ve represented the country in the past, though it was only within the continent. The Paris Marathon will be my first outing to Europe, so I’m going to train very hard for it.”
Yohanna on the other hand couldn’t believe her good fortune, and is yet to come to terms with the fact that she’s actually going to Paris:
“I feel very excited because I wasn’t expecting it since I was the second Nigerian woman at the race. I will say that this is an opportunity created by God. This is my first international outing so I’m short of words, because it is a great opportunity. I will definitely do my best.
“I’m sure Oluwaseun was shocked that I was chosen ahead of her, but I believe that she will also be happy for me, because I was happy for her when she won the race. I will gain much needed experience in Paris that will help me in future”, she said.