Making of Champions (MoC) athletes Joy Udo-Gabriel and Jeremiah Jakpa had to dig deep to secure a Top 3 finish in their respective events at the 2018 Commonwealth Games Trials which held from February 14th to 16th at the Abuja National Stadium.
Incidentally, the student-athletes being sponsored by ARCO Group, settled for the same position in their respective events. While Udo-Gabriel made her mark in the 100m on Day 2 of the three-day event, it was in the 200m that Jakpa enjoyed a better outing on the final day of competition.
The duo competed in the heats of the 100m on Day 1 of the Commonwealth Games Trials, with Udo-Gabriel placing 3rd behind Agnes Osazuwa (11.77s) and Gloria Bassey (11.81s) with a time of 11.83s.
She however improved to a Season’s Best (SB) of 11.65s, which also equals her PB set last year, while competing in Heat 2 of the semis where she finished 2nd behind Rosemary Chukwuma who won the race with a Personal Best (PB) of 11.55s on Day 2 of the meet.
Later that day, Udo-Gabriel held her own to place 3rd in 11.70s as Isoken Igbinosun raced to victory in 11.55s, while Chukwuma settled for 2nd in 11.58s in the women’s 100m final.
Speaking afterwards, Udo-Gabriel disclosed that her first outing at the Commonwealth Games Trials has been a memorable experience despite not bettering her PB: “I feel very happy about today and I will like to thank God for everything in general. Well, I had lots of expectations coming here; I wanted to do my Personal Best here but it did not work out.
“The experience has been very good for me. I was 3rd in my heat, 2nd in the semis and 3rd in the final, so that is something. Competing in a lot of meets has increased my confidence level because as you keep competing, you build your confidence. My target for the year is to do a huge PB”, she said.
Jakpa on the other hand, placed 2nd in his heat with a time of 10.60s, then finished 5th in the semis with 10.74s and didn’t make the final. However, he bounced back in the 200m after returning times of 21.32s and 21.46s to win his heat and semifinal race respectively.
Jakpa who is a 200m Bronze medallist from the 2017 National Championships, settled for 3rd place in the final where he clocked a time of 21.26s to finish behind eventual winner Emmanuel Arowolo (20.96s), and Idjesa Uruemu (21.22s).
Jakpa described his Commonwealth Games Trials experience as a bag of mixed feelings, saying: “This is an ongoing process so we just have to keep pushing. I came here fully ready but experienced some setbacks, but you just have to pick yourself up and keep trying your best.
“All that I have experienced here just motivates me to train harder and keep giving my body the right things to make me move forward. My target for 2018 is to keep going faster whilst combining the sport with my education. We will also see how many times one gets to represent Nigeria whilst making a name as well”.
Meanwhile MoC athlete Ifunanaya Muoghalu also finished 3rd in the women’s 200m final as well as the women’s 4x100m event, while Shell-sponsored Chiamaka competed in the women’s 100m final in her first outing of the season.