University of Port Harcourt’s Aniekeme Alphonsus has added the 100m senior title to the Junior crown she won last month, having stormed to victory in the women’s 100m final, which served as the major highlight on Day 1 of the All-Nigeria Track and Field Championships held at the Abuja National Stadium.
Alphonus, who has won several medals for Nigeria at Youth and Junior level, fired a note of warning to her senior counterparts by racing to GOLD in a time of 11.52s, coming from behind to snatch the victory ahead of Eaglesight’s Blessing Ogundiran who placed 2nd in 11.70s.
Ironically, Alphonsus clocked the same time in the women’s 100m final in 2016 where she finished 8th, with National Record (NR) holder Blessing Okagbare winning the race in 11.02s, suggesting that the quality of the field this year wasn’t as star-studded as that of the past year.
Ogundiran, another junior athlete, had an explosive start from the blocks and dominated the race for the better part, and despite finishing as first runner-up eventually, she will be pleased at making the podium in her debut outing at the National Championships.
Mercy Ntia-Obong settled for Bronze with her time of 11.73s, while Isoken Igbinosun followed in 4th place in 11.75s. Making of Champions (MoC) sprinter Joy Udo-Gabriel was 5th in 11.80s, an improvement from her maiden outing at the championships last year where she failed to advance from the heats.
The battle for superiority in the men’s 100m commenced on Thursday, with some members of the old guard rekindling their rivalry on the tracks of the Abuja National Stadium.
Some of the athletes who showed up include former National Champions, Obinna Metu and Ogho-Oghene Egwero. Others are two-time winner and defending champion Seye Ogunlewe, and former 200m National GOLD medallist Tega Odele.
Considering that Ogunlewe, Metu and Odele have maintained relatively low profiles this season, fans were eager to see what the sprinters had up their sleeves, especially as the trio are yet to hit the qualifying mark for next month’s World Championships in London.
2016 Junior Champion Raymond Ekevwo won Heat 1 of the men’s 100m, returning a time of 10.51s to finish ahead of the pair of Olisakwe Chukwudi (10.61s) and Thankgod Igube (10.73s). Ogunlewe looked impressive in Heat 2 as he coasted down the finishing line, taking it easy to secure the win in 10.39s. He was followed by Harry Chukwudike (10.52s) and Obute Bamiyo (10.62s).
Metu clocked the overall fastest time of 10.35s to dominate Heat 3, inspiring Emmanuel Arowolo to equal his Personal Best (PB) of 10.48s in 2nd place. Egwero was the man to beat in Heat 4 where he secured the win in 10.41s, whilst Usheoritse Itsekiri and Abiola Soyemi clocked 10.44s and 10.63s respectively.
Odele won Heat 5 in 10.78s to finish ahead of Funmilola Badewa (10.97s) and Adeyombo Adeniyi. MoC’s Peter Edwin improved on his outing at the National Trials from last year as he advanced to the semis this time around after winning Heat 6 in 10.74s. Nicholas Adeniyi followed in 10.87s, while Bashiru Abdullahi (10.91s) finished in 3rd place.
The final heat was won by National U-20 Bronze medallist and MoC’s Jerry Jakpa, who raced to a PB of 10.66s to book a place in the semis at his maiden outing at the Nigerian Trials. Akintola Alaba (10.92s) placed 2nd. The men’s 100m semis and final will hold on Friday.
Meanwhile Soudi Hamadjan today clinched his 6th consecutive title in the men’s 1500m, winning with a time of 3:48.61 to finish ahead of Udo Edidiong Okon (4:01.45) and Musa Charles (4:01.59). Hamadjan will compete in the 800m on Friday, and then the 3000m Steeplechase on Saturday.
Mary Adeyinka claimed the women’s 1500m crown after returning a time of 4:47.45, with Philomena Ikehandu and Morshiwman Golmine finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively with 4:49.79 and 5:02.29.
Deborah Pam easily retained her national title in the women’s 5000m where she clocked 17:35.59. Rose Akusho (17:52.59) and Elizabeth Nuhu (18:03.86) settled for Silver and Bronze respectively.
Marrakech 2014 Bronze medallist Martins Ogieriakhi was in action in Heat 1 of the 110 Hurdles which he won in 13.98s, with Abejoye Oyeniyi and Bashiru Abdullahi following in 14.14s and 14.32s. Alex Al-Amin stormed to victory in Heat 2 in 14.10s. He was followed by former National Champion Samuel Okon in 14.51s.