It was a clean sweep of medals for the Ethiopians in the men’s category of the 5th edition of the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race held on Saturday, May 13th in Edo State.

The Ethiopian trio of Leul Gebriesialse (00:29:28), Jima Bekele (00:29.34) and Dawit Fikadu (00:32.22) crossed the finishing line one after the other to beat their Kenyan counterparts to the top prize of the only IAAF bronze label race in Nigeria.

The women’s category was also dominated by their compatriot Gebru Azemra who returned a time of 00:33:59 to finish ahead of her Kenyan rivals, Veronica Maina (00:34:20) and Alice Timbilili (00:34:39), who incidentally placed 3rd in the 2017 Access Bank Lagos City Marathon as well.

Winner of the women’s category, Ethiopia’s Gebru Azemra flanked by Silver medallist Veronica Maina (L) and 3rd place winner Alice Timbilili.

The Top 3 winners in both the male and female categories smiled home with $15,000, $10,000 and $7,000 respectively.

Meanwhile first timer and 20-year old Jigak Monday pulled off an upset to win the Nigerian category of the race in a time of 00:31:53, finishing in 11th position in the overall standings.

He was followed by former champion Emmanuel Gyang in 00:32:18, while Ismail Sadjo placed 3rd in 00:32:22. The trio won N250,000, N100,000 and N80,000 respectively for their efforts.

Edo State Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu poses with the medallists in the Nigerian men’s category.

An excited Monday who is trained by former athlete Danjuma Monday, couldn’t hold back his joy at defeating his older counterparts. He said:

“This is my first time here and I won, so I am very happy. Even though I prepared hard, I didn’t expect to come first. I will prepare harder for the next Okpekpe International Race because my target is to beat the Kenyans and Ethiopians. I’m going to invest the prize money I won in my training so that I can become better”.

Deborah Pam was the first Nigeria woman to cross the finishing line after returning a time of 00:38:15 to finish 7th overall, while Elizabeth Nuhu who was the 2nd female Nigerian athlete, placed 8th overall in 00:38:41. Akusho Rose settled for 3rd place in 00:38:55.

Deborah Pam (C), Elizabeth Nuhu (L) and Akusho Rose (R) were the Top 3 finishers in the Nigerian women’s category.

Considering that dollar prizes for 4th-8th placed finishers in each gender category are $5000, $3,000, $2,500, $2,000, and $1,500, it means that Pam and Nuhu are entitled to $2,000 and $1500 respectively in addition to the N250,000 and N100,000 earned for finishing 1st and 2nd in the Nigerian category of the race.

Meanwhile the Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki, First Lady Betsy Obaseki, Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu, and Grand Patron of the Okpekpe Road Race and former Governor of the state, Adams Oshiomole all competed in event. Minister of Youth and Sports Barrister Solomon Dalung also graced the occasion.

Winner of the men’s event Leul Gebriesialse receives his trophy from the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Governor Obaseki who ran for ‘We Care Trust Charity’ appreciated all participants at the 5th Okpekpe Road Race, and called on indigenes of the state to use the event to promote causes that are dear to them. He also stated that the 6th edition of the race would witness vast improvements.

He said, “I’m grateful to those who ran to promote causes such as the orphanages or people suffering with cancer and so on. Our patriotic students from the Ambrose Alli University decided to run to discourage cultism. This just goes beyond the race; it is an opportunity to run for causes that are important to you.

“There are a number of improvements we need to put in place, so we will start preparation for next year’s edition as soon as possible. We do not have to wait until 2018.”

Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki; Deputy Governor Phillip Shaibu and Minister of Youth and Sports Solomon Dalung at the event.


Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games and IAAF World Championships. She has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and currently hosts a weekly Track and Field column in the Vanguard Newspaper.


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