When the 2nd MoC Grand Prix rolls in this weekend, there will no doubt be a plethora of scintillating match-ups the spectators would be served with. However, the men’s 100m and 200m finals will no doubt raise the roof after the competition has ended.
Although one can make a case for other events, going by what unfolded in the men’s 100m at the first edition of the MoC Grand Prix, the foundation for a mouthwatering contest in 2019 has surely been laid.
There were two protagonists last year. This time, another actor has joined the cast to take the lead characters to three. It’s going to be a race opera many eagerly anticipate.
Emmanuel Arowolo and Jerry Jakpa have had race duels that date back to 2017, when the former won the 200m National title, slightly edging it over Tega Odele and Jakpa who both got to the line at the same time as him.
However, the 2018 100m clash at the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos was what really cemented Arowolo & Jakpa’s rivalry, when both athletes dipped in at the line in an identical 10.25s (+2.3). Arowolo got the win with Jakpa settling for 2nd place. The rivalry really took off then.
Like every competition, no athlete wants a repeat of having to lose a consecutive race to the same person who narrowly beat them. While Jakpa would hope he can get the mantle this time around, Arowolo will by no means rest on his oars, as he would want to retain his title and leave with the bragging rights.
This is exactly what spectators signed up for, a strong contest from very good athletes who have over the years proven their mettle.
Then enters Enoch Adegoke in the scheme of things. 100m West African University Games (WAUG) Champion, 100m African Junior Champion, Adegoke himself has earned his stripes, and would go into the MoC Grand Prix as a major contender.
Adegoke didn’t compete at the first MoC Grand Prix as he was still recovering from an injury he copped at his breakout competition, the 2018 Commonwealth Games where he ran a Personal Best (PB) of 10.19s, missing out his first chance to go heads on with Jakpa and Arowolo.
The fact that the contest is now a trifecta, makes it more enticing. There’s no doubt there will be some very fast times as all three would spur each other for great performances, regardless that they all seek personal glories.
This season, all three athletes have not been in a race together, but they set the wheels in motion for a clash this season, when they competed at the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja. Considering that it was a season-ending event, the times returned there inspired an expectation that this season would be better.
It was at the festival that Jakpa showed that he could really compete with the big boys, stunning the crowd when he slalomed his way in between Adegoke and Ogho-Oghene Egwero to win their 100m semis, clocking a PB of 10.32s.
Not many people saw that coming, as he got an automatic spot into the final, leaving Adegoke to settle for the best loser spot. Adegoke however got his revenge when he edged out Jakpa for a podium placement, finishing 3rd in the final with a time of 10.32s and Jakpa 4th in 10.34s. Arowolo himself was not afar off from the action, coming in 5th in 10.37s. That was some race to savour.
On current form, Adegoke will get the nod over Jakpa and Arowolo, especially as he has had more 100m races under his belt this year – eight races so far. He also has a faster Season’s Best (SB) of 10.29s, which he ran in Abidjan.
Arowolo on his part has only competed once in the 100m this season, clocking an SB of 10.66s at the All Comers meet in Ijebu Ode. Same is the case for Jakpa in the 100m, who just like Arowolo has competed only once in that event this year, racing to an SB of 10.46s (-1.1) at the Gaborone International Meet.
All three would relish the chance to go up against each other, with the Sports Festival scenario still fresh on their minds as they prepare for another epic clash, seeking Olympic and World Championships qualifications this weekend.
If the 100m is making us salivate already, the 200m could even be the icing of great performances.
This year, Jakpa is the fastest of the three in this event, powering out to a PB of 20.84s in Botswana in April. It was Jakpa’s second 200m of the season, and it was that fast, a race he would look to build on when he faces familiar opposition, Arowolo, who has a knack for springing up good performances in the 200m.
Spurred on by his conquests in the 100m, Adegoke will be hoping to join the sub-21s club when he races at the MoC Grand Prix. Coming through the rounds in Abidjan, he finished 4th in the final with a PB of 21.07s, and is the only one of the three yet to crack sub 21s in the 200m.
We could go on and rave about Adegoke, Arowolo and Jakpa, but there are other notable athletes to watch out for as well. Alaba Akintola, Idjesa Uruemu and Harry Chukwudike are some of the names who could spring surprises, as they themselves are proven winners on their day.
Going by the improvement these athletes have made since the last MoC Grand Prix, if the winning time for the men’s 100m last year was 10.25s, it will be faster this year. It’s just that we do not know who will cross the line first.
The clearest pointer on how fast the men’s 100m and 200m would be this weekend, is that just a month ago in Japan during the World Relays: Jakpa, Adegoke, Arowolo and Egwero combined to run a Nigerian Record of 1:22.08…expect some fireworks in Yaba!