The 2017 All Nigeria Track and Field Championships will remain a memorable outing for Making of Champions athlete Jerry Jakpa who stormed to a Bronze medal in a nail-biting 200m men’s final on Day 3 of the competition held at the Abuja National Stadium.
So intense was the race that three athletes, Emmanuel Arowolo, Tega Odele and Jakpa all dipped on the line at the same time in a photo finish, and it eventually took the officials about 20 minutes to finally decide who the winner was.
Arowolo took the title in 21.16s, while 2015 National Champion in the event, Odele placed 2nd with a time of 21.19s. Jakpa who is still a Junior athlete, clocked a Personal Best (PB) of 21.21s in 3rd position.
The ARCO-sponsored athlete was without doubt MoC’s best performer at the competition, and certainly made the most of his debut outing at the National Championships, lowering his PB in all three races in the 200m.
He came to the championship with a PB of 21.81s and bettered the mark to 21.51s in the heats, having been inspired to a faster time by Ogho-Oghene Egwero who won the race in 21.23s. He then stormed to another PB of 21.37s enroute his victory in Heat 2 of the semifinals, and thereafter replaced it with a faster time of 21.21s in the final.
Jakpa who recently claimed Bronze in the 100m at the National U20 Championships, also ran a PB of 10.66s to win his 100m heat on Day 1 of the competition, smashing his former lifetime best of 10.70s. He got to the semis where he ran 10.78s.
Glory Nyenke was another outstanding MoC athlete at the championships. The quartermiler competed in both the 200m and 400m, and broke her times in both, running in the final of both events on the same day.
Coming to Abuja with a PB of 55.87s in the 400m, she dominated her heat with a time of 56.04s. Nyenke then advanced to the final where Patience Okon-George retained her title with a Season’s Best (SB) of 51.06s, whilst the U20 Silver medallist went on to set a new PB of 55.60s despite finishing 7th in the race.
In the 200m heats, Nyenke improved on her previous PB by 0.01s, setting a new mark of 24.72s after placing 3rd and booking a place in the final. Interestingly, she set her former time at the AFN/Dynamic Solutions meet in Abuja in June which qualified her for the African U20 Championships held at the end of June. Unfortunately, Nigeria didn’t send a team to the event.
Nyenke smashed her time again in the 200m final, replacing it with a superior mark of 24.62s in 6th place.
Having qualified for both the 100m and 200m, another ARCO-sponsored athlete Joy Udo-Gabriel only competed in the 100m where she clocked 11.8s to finish behind Precious Okoronkwo who returned a time of 11.6s.
Udo-Gabriel, a double Silver medallist at last month’s National U20 Championships, competed in the final where she finished 5th in 11.80s, with Aniekeme Alphonsus taking the win in 11.52s. This is the 18-year old’s second outing at the National Championships, having made her debut last year where she only competed in the heats.
Eseroghene Oguma went for the 200m/400m double in Abuja and got to the semis in both events. He also set a new PB in the 200m, running inside 22s for the first time in his career. He finished 4th in the 400m heats with a time of 49.54s, and placed 6th in the final in 49.20s.
The National U20 Bronze medallist in the 200m returned a time of 22.05s in his heat to place 3rd behind Arowolo. He then shattered his PB to set a new mark of 21.95s in the semis. Oguma was recently awarded a Student-Athlete scholarship by Niger Delta Exploration and Production Company Plc (NDEP).
National U18 Bronze medallist in the Boys’ 100m, Bowofoluwa Egbeyemi competed in the men’s 100m at the National Championships. The 17-year old who is currently being sponsored by ND Western Limited, wasn’t left out of the PB-breaking spree.
The University of Ibadan Mechanical Engineering student entered the 10s club for the first time in his career, setting a new PB of 10.93s in his heat, thus improving on his former lifetime best of 11.08s.
Segun Akhigbe joined the list of MoC athletes who improved on their times when he stormed to a new PB of 49.49s in the 400m, having been inspired to a faster time by virtue of being drawn in the same heat as eventual champion and the only Nigerian male quartermiler to have qualified for the World Championships, Samson Nathaniel.
MoC’s women’s 4x100m team and the men’s 4x400m squad narrowly missed out on the podium placements in the championship as both teams finished 4th.