On a hot Saturday morning at the National Stadium in Abuja, Samson Nathaniel and Yinka Ajayi produced thrilling performances that drew huge cheers from spectators as they both ran Personal Bests (PB) to win the men and women’s 400m respectively at the AFN/Dynamic Sporting Solutions meet.
Not only did they run PBs, it came with the icing of securing qualifications for the IAAF World Championships in London later this year.
Although Ajayi had already qualified having clocked exactly 52.10s (women’s 400m qualifying time) at the Islamic Games in Baku last month, she was no doubt more elated today after racing to a time of 51.59s to win women’s 400m heat 1. Rita Ossai was 2nd with 53.85s, and Peace Nwalehia who won heat 3, finished 3rd in 54.13s.
In fact, Ajayi is the first Nigerian female quarter-miler to qualify for the 2017 World Championships, joining the likes of Botswana’s Amantle Montsho and Lydia Jele.
Ajayi raised the bar, and Nathaniel took it from there to take the cheers at the stadium to a higher level. In the very first heat of the men’s 400m, Nathaniel stormed past the field to run a PB of 45.23s, surpassing his previous mark of 45.80s set two years ago at the African Games in Congo Brazzaville.
It was a fast race from the quarter-miler who moved back to Nigeria last year to train, joining Ajayi as the only Nigerian 400m runners to hit qualifying standards for London. Men’s 400m qualifying mark is 45.50s.
Ogbonna Prosper who won heat 4 in 46.87s finished 2nd overall with Atanda Akindele who finished 2nd in heat 1, coming 3rd overall with a time of 47.35s.
Both 100m finals produced thrilling finales, as it was difficult to make a straight call on the winners immediately the races ended, seeing as they all dipped in at once.
Ogho-Oghene Egwero’s experience paid off in the men’s final, as he was adjudged winner crossing the line in 10.44s, while Itsekiri Usheoritse was 2nd in 10.45s and Emmanuel Arowolo 3rd in 10.47s.
Talk about experience, that was what cost Arco-Group sponsored Making of Champions Joy Udo Gabriel from winning the women’s 100m final, as she floundered at the finish line to place 2nd in 11.73s behind Isoken Igbinosun who won in 11.69s. Cecilia Francis was 3rd in 11.74s.
In the men’s 110m Hurdles, Bashiru Abdullahi ran the fastest time of the two heats to win in 14.41s, while Samuel Osadolor was 2nd in 14.48s and Samuel Etim 3rd in 14.50s. Grace Ayemoba won the women’s 100m Hurdles in 14.07s, beating Kemi Francis who was 2nd in 14.39s and Vivian Akunna 3rd in 14.89s
Women’s 200m was won by Maria Thompson who ran a time of 23.53s to win heat 1, with Igbinosun placing 2nd having won heat 3 in 23.63s, and Ajayi 3rd in 23.83s. Owing to the delay before the commencement of men’s 200m, some of the results were hand-timed making it difficult to ascertain the placements.
Shimenenge Agber won the women’s 800m running a time of 2:13.56, beating Philomena Ihekandu who was 2nd in 2:15.28, and Aminat Alabi 3rd in 2:15.55. A crowded men’s category was won by Hamajan Soudy in 1:52.83, with Mohamed Isiyaku placing 2nd in 1:53.90 and Ogunseye Goke 3rd in 1:54.93
Emmanuel Gyang won men’s 10,000m in 31:24.15 , beating Shehu Muázu who was 2nd in 31:44.45 and Goyet Gideon 3rd in 32:16.10
Ihezue Nzube won men’s Triple Jump with a mark of 15.18m, beating Meyiwa Ine who was 2nd with 14.99m and Theddus Okpara 3rd jumping a distance of 14.95m.
After finishing 2nd in the 100m Hurdles, Kemi Francis was back to winning ways as she won women’s Long with a mark of 5.93m, beating Precious Okoronkwo who was 2nd jumping 5.87m and Hope Ideh 3rd with 5.83m
Kalu Eke Onwuka won men’s Shot Put with a mark of 16.81m, Isaac Odugbesan 2nd with 16.65m and Kenechukwu Ejiofor 3rd with 15.73m
Kelechi Nwanaga won the women’s Javelin throwing a distance of 53.45m, beating Priscilla Zever who was 2nd with 41.67m and Francisca Chukwudebulum who was 3rd with 40.92m
Esther Isa won women’s High Jump with a mark of 1.70m, with Grace Anigbata 2nd jumping a height of 1.65m and Ngozi Nwichi 3rd with 1.55m