Just a few months ago, Making of Champions’ Ifunanya Muoghalu was struggling to find her feet in the women’s 100m, now she’s making a statement in the women’s 400m having claimed her first victory in the AFN Golden League.
Muoghalu was one of the standout performers at the Kaduna Golden League, racing to her third Personal Best (PB) in one week to win the women’s 400m at the Ahmadu Bello stadium.
For the University of Port Harcourt 200 level student, it’s been a remarkable transition back to her favourite event, making the switch from the 100m and 200m last season.
Muoghalu who represented her school at the National University Games (NUGA) held in Makurdi in April finished 4th in the 100m then with a time of 12.37s. It was probably the outcome that led to her switching back to the 400m after she couldn’t progress beyond the heats at the National Championships in July.
On her first race back in the 400m, Moughalu raced to her first PB of 56.08s at the All Comers meet in Abuja, running from lane 1 to finish 2nd behind Margaret Etim. She pulled out from the final to rest, and it paid off as she turned yet another corner a week later winning her heat in Kaduna with yet another PB of 55.51s.
However it was in the final on Saturday that she served up a snippet of things to come, hanging on the shoulders of Rita Ossai as she made the move for pole position in the last 200m to win with a time of 54.50s, cutting down over a second from a week ago. Ossai finished 2nd with a time of 55.26s while Oluchi Offorma was 3rd in 55.48s.
It’s still early in the season and it’s December when running conditions are very difficult. As the season progresses there’s a feeling that Muoghalu could be the dark horse in the women’s 400m.
Meanwhile in the men’s 100m, another MoC athlete Jeremiah Jakpa showed that he is ready to rub shoulders with the big boys, clocking yet another PB to finish 2nd with a time of 10.49s.
Jakpa struggled from the blocks and didn’t get into his rhythm until the 40m mark, when he picked up the slack to dip at the line and finish 2nd. Usheoritse Itsekiri won the race, powering to victory with a Season’s Best (SB) of 10.46s while former National champion Obinna Metu finished 3rd in 10.51s.
For Jakpa it was some sort of consolation having finished 2nd in his 200m heat a day earlier with a time of 21.19s (+5.0). To be this close to some of the best in these events, Jakpa has shown that he has successfully made the step up from the junior cadre into the senior category.
Another MoC athlete who was in amongst the PBs was Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ojeli who lowered his previous mark of 47.90s to finish 3rd in the men’s 400m with a new time of 47.74s.
Ojeli who was not in the mix after the first 250m somehow found the extra energy to move into a challenging position and finish behind Emmanuel Bamidele who won in 46.48s and Orukpe Erayokan who was 2nd in 47.07s.
It’s been a Golden League meet to savour for Ojeli, with the National Youth Games champion running his first competitive 200m race on Friday and clocking a time of 21.21s (+3.9). Who knows, he could go on to compete in both events in future and being that Wayde Van Niekerk is his role model, he could go on to emulate the 400m World Record holder.