Although it rained all through, almost marring the African Tour meet put together by organisers to commission the newly built Stephen Keshi stadium, the weather did not deter athletes from putting up respectable performances in their events.
With just under two weeks left to the commencement of the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships in Asaba, organisers launched the new stadium today to test-run facilities for its readiness to host the continent.
Producing one of the highlights of the day, ARCO Group sponsored Joy Udo-Gabriel shook off the disappointment of not traveling to Finland for the World Under 20 Junior Championships, clocking a new Personal Best of 11.40s to win the women’s 100m.
Udo-Gabriel bolted out of the blocks, powering to victory over Mercy Ntia-Obong who finished 2nd in 11.78s and Blessing Ogundiran 3rd with a time of 12.20s.
The men’s 100m was very contentious as there were conflicting reports at the time the race finished and when the result came out. Although it looked too close to call as the top two finishers appeared to have dipped in at the same time, Divine Oduduru was adjudged the winner with a time of 10.44s.
Ogho-Oghene Egwero finished 2nd in that keenly contested race, crossing the line in a time of 10.46s with Enoch Adegoke finishing 3rd in 10.52s.
In the women’s 400m, Patience Okon-George produced a fine run to win with a time of 51.49s beating Abike Egbeniyi who was 2nd in 52.48s and Rita Ossai 3rd crossing the line in 54.95s.
This is Okon-George’s second fastest time this season, having clocked 51.40s to finish 2nd back in February during the Commonwealth Games trials in Abuja.
Meanwhile in the men’s 400m, Isah Salihu ran a good race from lane 1 to take victory in 46.70s, with Daniel Atinaya outpacing Orukpe Erayokan in the home straight to finish 2nd in 47.05s and the latter finishing 3rd in 47.95s.
Henry Okorie made a strong finish for the line to claim victory in the 400m Hurdles with a time of 52.03s, while Gbenga Bakare was 2nd in 53.42s and Ismail Muhammed 3rd in 54.46s.
In the women’s 400m Hurdles, Abasiono Akpan accelerated after the last barrier to win in 56.74s as Kemi Francis came in 2nd in 60.41s, while Joy Abu was 3rd in 61.42s.
Abejoye Oyeniyi easily won the men’s 110m Hurdles, crossing the line in 14.14s with Samuel Osadolor finishing 2nd in 14.38s and Bashiru Abdullahi 3rd in 14.41s.
In the women’s 100m Hurdles, Grace Ayemoba withdrew just after the first barrier and Did Not Finish (DNF), handing the initiative to Favour Efe who raced to victory in 14.30s
Going to the long distance races, Hauwa Haruna took her time before kicking in front to win the women’s 1500m with a time of 4:27.57. Philomena Ihekandu was 2nd in 4:29.43 and Yinka Bantefa 3rd in 4:29.43.
Sudy Hamadjan raced to an unrivaled victory in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, winning with a time of 9:05.57
There were just two field events on the day, women’s Shot Put and Hammer. National Record holder Queen Obisesan ensured she thrilled the spectators, turning their attention from the track events to the hammer, throwing a massive 64.49m to win the event.
Obisesan will be one of those to watch out for at the African Championships, and if she comes close to her NR of 66.20m, she will no doubt be the one of the favourites for the title.
In the women’s Shot Put, Eucharia Ogbukwo took victory throwing a distance of 14.49m.