Emmanuel Gyang and Deborah Pam are among Nigeria's top runners competing at the Okpekpe 10km Race.

The country’s athletes have set their sights on competing keenly with their East African counterparts as the 7th Okpekpe 10km Road Race takes centre stage in Okpekpe, Etsako East Local Government of Edo State.

The IAAF Silver Label Race has been won in the last six editions by athletes from East Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia to be precise, but some of the long distance runners in Nigeria have set their targets on achieving something from this year’s edition.

The organisers are targeting a Gold Label after this year’s race and some top athletes from Nigeria believe this will even make them to perform better running side-by-side with some of the top distance runners across the world.

Speaking on Thursday, Emmanuel Gyang, who just got married to Deborah Pam, another top athlete the country can boast of, said they were ready for the race.

He said, “I have been available for the race in the last six editions. This time around, I am ready to do better than I have been doing in the past. We are going to be competing with some of the best in the world, but that will only ginger us better, especially those of us from Nigeria.

“It is not going to be easy, but we are all battle ready and nothing will stop us from getting our dues as an athlete in Nigeria. I got married recently and my wife is also ready to achieve a better position this time around. She has been the best from the country but now she is ready to compete with the other top women runners.”

Meanwhile, the organisers have announced the arrival of all the athletes expected for the race and will embark on the tour of the course on Friday (today) in line with IAAF requirements.

Head of the race secretariat Mercy Etukudo said this year’s race would be explosive as only the best athletes over the 10 km distance have been assembled for the race.

The race will be live on the terrestrial platform of the Africa Independent Television, AIT.

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the National Sports Festival and the African Athletics Championships, and has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

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