The men and women’s 100m final threw up some surprises, but it was the duo of Usheoritse Itsekiri and Bukola Bolutife who braved the odds to win GOLD for Team Rivers and Team Ondo respectively at the 19th National Sport Festival (NSF) taking place at the main bowl of the National Stadium, Abuja.
Racing under the floodlights of the stadium, Itsekiri who had broken his Personal Best (PB) twice – in the heats and the semis, came up against a stacked 100m field, but the 2017 National Junior Champion put on a brutal display of dominance as he blitzed down the red track, stopping the clock in a new Personal Best (PB) of 10.27s.
KADA 2009 Games Champion, Ogho-Oghene Egwero, who represented Delta State, had to claw his way back into 2nd place, while 2018 West Africa University Games (WAUG) Champion, Enoch Adegoke was 3rd. Both athletes clocked 10.32s.
In the women’s final, Bolutife’s victory wasn’t clear until the final 15m as she held off surges from Peace Uko of Akwa Ibom and Joy Udo-Gabriel of Delta, clocking a PB of 11.45s in the process.
Uko clocked 11.52s for 2nd, and Udo-Gabriel 11.53s for 3rd, edging Mercy Ntia-Obong of Akwa Ibom by three hundredths of a second.
In the second major final on the track, David Olowookere (Oyo) raced to a lifetime’s best of 51.07s to win GOLD in the men’s 400m Hurdles, beating Henry Okorie (Rivers) who was 2nd in 51.33s, while Sikiru Adeyemi (Bayelsa) was 3rd in 51.96s.
Rita Ossai led from start to finish, winning GOLD for Bayelsa in the women’s 400m Hurdles final in 59.31s. Daisy Akpofa of Edo was 2nd in 59.69s, while Comfort Ekanem (Oyo) placed 3rd with a time of 59.89s.
The men’s 400m semis saw the trident of Orukpe Erayokan (Rivers, 46.45s), Samson Nathaniel (Delta, 46.90s), and Abdulramon Afeez (Oyo, 47.91s) winning their respective heats to make it into the finals tomorrow.
Yinka Ajayi (Delta) ran unperturbed in the fastest 400m semis on the day, until heading into the home straight when she felt the breath of Nse Uko Imaobong (Akwa Ibom) on her neck, but the African Championships Bronze medallist held on to claim victory in 53.09s. Imaobong set a new PB of 53.20s to place 2nd.
Folashade Abugan (Bayelsa) qualified for the finals in the other heat, clocking 53.68s. Praise Idamadudu (Delta) was a distant 2nd in 54.16s, while Margaret Etim (Ondo, 54.19s), Glory Nyeke (Akwa Ibom, 55.16s), and Ifunanya Muoghalu (Anambra, 55.21s) all qualified for Thursday’s final.
In what was an enthralling 10,000m final, Ismaila Sadjo (Cross Rivers) produced a great kick at the bell lap, leaving Emmanuel Gyang (Rivers) in his wake as he claimed victory in 31:37:00. Gyang was 2nd, while Shehu Mu’azu (Plateau State) came through in 3rd.
On the field, Team Delta’s Eucharia Ogbukwo ensured that the state is making a clean sweep of the throws, winning the women’s Shot put event with a distance of 15.42m.