Kelechi Nwanaga and Oyeniyi Abejoye were the two medallists for Team Nigeria on Day 4 of the 21st African Athletics Championships taking place in Asaba, Nigeria, increasing the country’s medal tally to fourteen going into the last day of the competition.
After setting a new National Record (NR) in the women’s Javelin last year, Nwanaga finally produced a big performance in a major championships, as she struck GOLD in the final of this year’s African Championships.
The final was expected to be a straight-on battle between Nwanaga and Jo-ane Van Dyk of South Africa, and the riveting contest lived up to the billing. The South African came into the Championship hoping to upgrade the Silver medal she won in Durban to GOLD, while Nwanaga wanted to put behind her the ignominy of placing 4th at the same competiton.
It was however Van Dyk who laid down the gauntlet lead after the third round as the South African landed the spear on the 53.72m mark. Nwanaga then responded with a fifth round effort of 56.96m to claim victory ahead of the South African. Uganda’s Josephine LaLaw placed 3rd with a 51.33m throw.
Nigeria’s other medal on the day came in the the 110m Hurdles final as Abejoye won Silver for Nigeria in the event.
While running in Lane 3, Abejoye, who got off to a good start, failed to get into his rhythm as he clattered the first four hurdles. But after getting into his groove, he was able to compose himself to cross the finish line in 2nd place, clocking a time of 13.87s. Marrtins Ogieriakhi placed 4th in 13.93s.
In the men’s 200m, one of the poster boys of the championships, Divine Oduduru, was the only athlete to qualify for the final. The 2018 NCAA Champion in the event placed 2nd in his semis as he posted a time 20.60s.
Nigeria’s other representatives in the half-lap event were not so lucky as the duo of Emmanuel Arowolo and Jerry Jakpa couldn’t make it into the final after placing 3rd and 5th in their respective semi finals.
It was nonetheless a good outing for Jakpa who was making his international debut for Nigeria, as the 20-year old set a new Personal Best (PB) of 20.87s, placing 2nd in his heat earlier in the day.
In the women’s category, Praise Idamadudu will be the only female sprinter in the women’s final on Day 5 after she clocked a time of 23.92s to place 3rd in her semi-final race.
Switching to the women’s 400m Hurdles, Glory Nathaniel was a class apart from the rest of the field as she clocked the fastest time (55.95s) of the the two heats to qualify for the final. Also, Rita Ossai made it into Sunday’s final after she finished 2nd in Heat 1.
Running in Heat 3 of the women’s 800m, Nigeria’s only athlete in the event, Abike Egbeniyi placed 5th, posting a time of 2:04.44. The time however wasn’t enough for her to qualify for the final.
Finally, the men’s 4x400m, the quartet of Daniel Atinaya, Sikiru Adeyemi, Henry Okorie and Isah Salihu combined to place 3rd in the heat 1 of the relay. The final comes up on Day 5.