The men and women’s 100m finals lived up to the hype generated before the races, producing scintillating displays that saw Raymond Ekevwo and Mercy Ntia-Obong storm to victories on Day 1 of Top Sprinter 2016 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

If there was any doubt that Ekevwo has come of age, such was dispelled after he beat the field to win the men’s 100m title, crossing the line in 10.79s and defeating older athletes whom he ran with.

The Ughelli, Delta State based athlete showed signs of what to expect in the final, after practically jogging in his heat in the first round and also in the semis, going on to win the races with good displays.

Top Sprinter, Lagos
Raymond Ekevwo excited to have clinched the men’s 100m title at ┬áTop Sprinter 2016

Uruemu Idjesa had something to cheer about, having had a difficult year that saw him miss out on the Nigerian team to the World Junior Championships in Poland, finishing 2nd with a time of 10.85s, and last year’s Top Sprinter champion, Chukwudi Olisakwe placing 3rd with a time of 10.89s.

Chukwudi Olisakwe won his semifinal heat, but he finished 3rd in the final
Chukwudi Olisakwe won his semifinal heat, but he finished 3rd in the final

Interestingly Ekevwo is a junior but he opted to run with the seniors maybe because of the prize money on offer.

Ekevwo earlier this year announced his presence on the national scene, winning the Boys 100m title at the DK Olukoya National Junior Championships in Lagos after running a breathtaking 10.37s, going on to represent Nigeria at the World Juniors and competing in the 4x100m relays.

It goes to show how much Ekevwo has evolved, and considering that he is still a junior and running this well, it could only be a matter of time before he breaks into the senior national team.

If the men’s 100m was very thrilling, the women’s 100m was also a cliffhanger, which saw one of the best finishes one could witness in Athletics.

Mercy Ntia-Obong ran a great race to pip Cecilia Francis at the line and clinching the women’s 100m title with a time of 11.96s. It was a great contest, one that got the spectators applauding after witnessing a good race from Ntia-Obong and Francis who had at one point represented Nigeria.

It was a close contest in the women's 100m final, with Mercy Ntia-Obong emerging victorious after dipping in ahead of Cecilia Francis
It was a close contest in the women’s 100m final, with Mercy Ntia-Obong emerging victorious after dipping in ahead of Cecilia Francis

 

Francis, a 2015 African Games Gold medallist in the women’s 4x100m, got a good start and led up till the last 40m, however it was then that Ntia-Obong started closing in on her and dipping in to take the win, with the former clocking 12.02s to finish 2nd. Rashidat Lawal finished 3rd clocking 12.28s.

Cecilia Francis represented Nigeria last year at the World Championships in Beijing and also at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville
Cecilia Francis represented Nigeria last year at the World Championships in Beijing and also at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville

For Ekevwo and Ntia-Obong who won the titles, they will each get N50,000 for winning, with the 2nd place finishers getting N30,000 and 3rd place finishers going home with N20,000.

Meanwhile in the women’s 400m, Yinka Ajayi who represented Nigeria at the African Championships in Durban, ran the fastest time of the two semis, clocking 54.03s to win heat 2 and easily qualified for the final.

Yinka Ajayi won heat 2 of the women's 400m and will be a favourite for the final on Friday
Yinka Ajayi won heat 2 of the women’s 400m semis and will be a favourite for the final on Friday

In the men’s category, Nathaniel Samson was the standout, comfortably taking heat 2 in 47.32s, the fastest time of all five heats. The likes of Sikiru Adewale also ran good races, with the African Junior 4x400m Gold medallist winning heat 1 with 48.03s.

Training in Nigeria at the moment, Nathaniel Samson is hoping to rekindle the 2015 form that saw him make the semifinals at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville
Training in Nigeria at the moment after his sojourn to the United States late in 2015, Nathaniel Samson will be hoping to rekindle the 2015 form that saw him make the semifinals at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville

There will be more finals on day 2 of Top Sprinter 2016, with the 400m finals and the 200m heats and finals, all taking place on Friday.

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Athletics coverage was a discovery, having to move away from regularly writing about Football. Although it was initially daunting, but now being an authority in it makes the past effort worthwhile. From travelling on the same international flight with Nigerian athletes, to knowing you could easily interview: World Record holder Tobi Amusan, then Ese Brume, I have cut my teeth in this beat earning the trust of Athletics sources. Formerly the Content Manager-Sports at Ringier media Nigeria, Chris is a Senior Sports writer, Photographer & Community manager at Making of Champions.

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