After an eight-month hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic affecting sporting activities around the world, Athletics action returned to Nigeria for the first time since February as the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba hosted an invited cast of athletes comprising former and current National Champions.
The event duly delivered with a mixture of surprise results in the sprints, mixed with a cocktail of upsets in the men’s High Jump, which was won by a Senior Secondary School student.
Making of Champions (MoC) Jerry Jakpa wasn’t the bookie’s favorite to claim the spoils in the men’s 100m judging by his performance in the heats earlier in the day where he barely qualified for the finals. He, however, came up with a clutch performance in the final, despite running from Lane 1, as he unleashed his trademark kick for the final 10m to win in 10.55s (-1.6).
Enoch Adegoke, who ran a Season’s Best (SB) of 10.29s in the heats – the fastest time in the competition – finished 2nd in 10.60s, with Adekalu Fakorede finishing 3rd in 10.77s.
In the women’s final, Grace Nwokocha continued her impressive form before the COVID-19 started, as she utilized her good finishing to claim victory in the women’s 100m, beating MoC’s Joy Udo-Gabriel who was 2nd in 11.77s. Praise Idamadudu finished 3rd in 11.88s.
Jakpa made it a double for himself on the day as he stepped up in the 200m to breeze to victory in 21.09s. It was a 1-2 for MoC as His teammate John Clifford ran his 2nd Personal Best of the day, finishing 2nd in 21.67s ahead of Consider Ekanem who was 3rd on 21.68s.
In the women’s 200m, Favour Ofili who clocked a Personal Best (PB) of 23.07s back in Akure in February, emerged victorious in 23.60s (-1.7). Anita Taviore got under 24s, finishing 2nd in 23.95s, with Praise Idamadudu 3rd in 24.10s.
After not racing in over a year, precocious teenager, Imaobong Nse Uko led from start to finish in the women’s 400m, crossing the line in an SB of 53.16s. Glory Patrick tried to catch her, but settled for 2nd place in 54.46s, while Blessing Ovwighodjabre was 3rd in 54.66s.
Homeboy, Daniel Atinaya clocked a new PB of 46.09s in the men’s 400m to stun the field which included National Champion Emmanuel Ojeli. The quarter-miler held off competition from Adewale Sikiru heading into the home straight to clinch victory, inspiring the latter to a PB of 46.17s in 2nd place. Abdulrahman Afeez was 3rd in 47.77s.
Abejoye Oyeniyi was unflustered on his way to victory in the men’s 110m Hurdles, clocking 14.07s (-0.2). Kemi Francis took the win in the women’s 100m Hurdles getting to the line in 14.56s (-0.9) ahead of Stella Anyaleke who ran a Personal Best of 14.75s to finish 2nd.
Brume wins Long Jump as David Aya causes upset in the High Jump
World Championships Bronze medallist Ese Brume competed at home for the first time this season, just about two months since placing second at the Doha Diamond League. She didn’t break a sweat as she leapt to a mark of 6.60m (+1.2) to win the women’s Long Jump. Hope Idhe finished 2nd with 5.90m while Victory George was 3rd jumping 5.90m.
David Aya, an SS3 student of Hussy College Warri was the surprise winner in the men’s High Jump, needing two attempts to jump a new PB of 2.10m to secure victory. Aya was at his best, and he defeated the favourite, Best Erhire who was 2nd with 2.05m.
Princess Kara was dominant in the women’s Discus, and she was over 50m three times. Kara improved on her previous Personal Best of 50.07m which she threw last year in Abuja, throwing a new PB of 50.89m to comfortably claim victory
Elsewhere, Samuel Kure landed the spear in an SB of 72.32m, narrowly securing victory over Nnamdi Chinecherem who was 2nd with a throw of 72.31m in the men’s Javelin. Samuel Ndifereke settled for 3rd place with a mark of 60.79m.
In the men’s Triple Jump, Pius Nzube was hardly challenged as he leapt to a new Personal Best of 15.79m, improving on his previous mark of 15.75m which he jumped three years ago in Abuja.