Making of Champions (MoC) Track Club will be represented by a record-breaking squad of 22 athletes at the forthcoming Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) All-Comers taking place at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) in Ondo State this weekend, the highest number of MoC athletes to feature at a single competition, breaking the former record of 17 athletes who competed at the 2019 AFN All-Comers in Ijebu-Ode.
For most MoC athletes, this would be their first national outing in almost a year after the 2020 season was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, asides the likes of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Jerry Jakpa and Emmanuel Ojeli who got to compete in one international meeting in 2020 – the Kip Keino Classic held in Nairobi, Kenya in September.
Udo-Gabriel and Jakpa competed in the 200m, while Ojeli raced in his signature event, the 400m where he stormed to 2nd place in a Season’s Best (SB) of 46.49s in 2nd position, while Jakpa returned a time of 20.71s to place 4th in his event. Udo-Gabriel also finished in the same position with her SB of 24.22s. The MoC trio and National 100m/200m Champion Usheoritse Itsekiri were the only Nigerians in action in Kenya.
Leading the MoC athletes to Akure is African Championships 100m Bronze Medallist Udo-Gabriel whose last national competition was the Okowa Covid-19 Resumption Meet in Asaba in November where she finished 2nd in the women’s 100m final. The reigning women’s 100m National Champion is hoping to commence her season on a good note in preparation for next month’s National Sports Festival (NSF) where she’s aiming to finish on the podium.
Joining her in Akure is MoC’s other reigning National Champion, Emmanuel Ojeli who is also making a return to the national scene after competing in Asaba three months ago. The African Games Bronze medallist will be eager to dominate whatever event he races in, and having scooped Bronze in the 400m at the 2018 NSF, he will use the All-Comers to ascertain his level of fitness as the 2021 NSF beckons.
Jerry Jakpa was the man to beat in the 100m/200m at the Okowa Meet in Asaba and will be hoping to extend his winning streak when he gets on the track in Akure. The 200m specialist narrowly missed the podium after placing 4th in the 100m at the 2018 NSF, and will set his sights on winning a medal in Benin next month.
MoC’s No.1 female quartermiler Blessing Oladoye will be aiming for a good result in Akure, which is her home turf. She will be joined by her fellow quartermiler Mercy Umoibang who is being sponsored by Niger Delta Exploration and Production Company, and whose last national competition was the Ekiti Classics held almost a year ago.
Kelechi Christian, Moyosore Badejo and Maria Umoibang complete MoC’s list of female sprinters to Akure while Nigeria’s fastest U-20 hurdler, Miracle Thompson and teammate, Fidelia Ucheobi, will compete in the 100m Hurdles.
Teenage sensation Favour Ashe set the Akure tracks on fire last February when he stormed to a World U20 lead of 10.40s while competing in the men’s 100m, and will be aiming for another impressive run in Akure. Fellow sprinters Gafar Audu and former National U20 200m Champion Favour Ekpekpe, will also target commendable outings as well.
MoC Track Club’s special athlete Ifeanyi Christian who is won GOLD medals in the T46 100m, 200m and 400m at the Para Athletics Grand Prix in Tunisia in 2019, will once again test his mettle against his able-bodied counterparts in Akure and will welcome the competition, seeing his last national outing was in 2019.
Quartermilers John Clifford, Gracious Ushie and Adeola Ayo will be hoping to improve on their times in Akure. Clifford and Ushie clocked PBs of 48.21s and 48.36s last season which will boost their confidence ahead of the meeting.
Completing the quartermile list of athletes to Akure are Bunmi Lateef who won his heat at the TAFCAN Meet, Segun Akhigbe and Saheed Jimoh, while Inioluwa Mebawondu and Uthman Yusuff will compete in the sprints.
Speaking about his expectations ahead of the All-Comers in Akure, MoC Founder/CEO Bambo Akani said, “I’m very pleased to see that our MoC athletes are starting the season with a record attendance at the AFN All-Comers in Akure. 22 athletes is no mean feat, especially these times. It’s not been easy keeping the club going and keeping the athletes well-funded and supported.
“We will like to say a big thanks to our sponsors and supporters who have helped us to keep the show going despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the likes of ND Western, Niger Delta, Beacon Power Services and a host of private individuals who have supported us during this period. We’re looking forward to great performances through the season and several athletes to qualify to represent Nigeria at the Olympics, World U-20 Championships and African Championships.”