All roads will lead to Akure, the Ondo State capital later this week as Nigerian Track and Field athletes make a return to the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) for the 2nd Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) All Comers Meet set to hold on Friday and Saturday, March 12 – 13, with participants expected to arrive on Thursday, March 11.
In the invitation letter to State Associations, Coaches, Paramilitary organizations, Clubs and other stakeholders, the AFN stated that the event is meant to serve as a platform to evaluate, discover and select from the pool of home-based athletes, those that could represent Nigeria at forthcoming international competitions.
As usual, one of the events that will be keenly contested is the men’s 100m, which produced one of the major highlights of the 1st All-Comers in January after Enoch Adegoke put up a spectacular display, racing to a then Season’s Best (SB) and World Lead (WL) of 10.16s, spurring Godson Brume to a Personal Best (PB) of 10.27s in 2nd place as Akintola Alaba settled for 3rd. The time is still the second fastest outdoors this year.
The fireworks in the men’s 100m and 200m may be turned up a notch higher with the return of National Champion in the 100m/200m Usheoritse Itsekiri to competition. Itsekiri’s last outing on the domestic scene was the 2019 National Championships in Kaduna, and he will be keen to use the All-Comers to gauge his level of preparedness for the 2021 season. As such, the current top list in the men’s 100m would likely change by the end of the week.
The women’s 100m is another event to watch out for as MoC’s Joy Udo-Gabriel would aim to extend her winning streak, having dominated the event more than a month ago with a time of 11.72s. Praise Idamadudu was 2nd (11.81s) and Esther Okon 3rd in 11.87s. Although Grace Nwokocha didn’t compete in Akure the last time, the women’s 100m will definitely make for an interesting watch should she make the trip this weekend and will be hoping to commence her 2021 campaign on a good note.
Emmanuel Ojeli has been steadily testing the waters in the 100m/200m and is now carving a niche for himself as a multi-talented sprinter. Having set PBs of 10.40s and 20.78s respectively at the 1st All-Comers, finishing ahead of teammate Jerry Jakpa in the 200m, it will be interesting to see what Ojeli comes up with this time around as his mark was the fastest across all 16 heats in the 200m! Jakpa (20.94s) and fellow MoC athlete John Clifford (21.17s) follow on the rankings and having Itsekiri compete in the 200m will spice things up a bit.
Esther Okon was the fastest woman across the 200m the last time with a new PB of 23.82s. She will face former National Champion in the event Praise Idamadudu who was the second fastest with her time of 23.97s. Nwokocha’s presence will raise the stakes in the event, while the likes of likes of Udo-Gabriel will try to get into the mix as well.
Sikiru Adeyemi has been quite consistent in the men’s 400m in recent years, having set multiple PBs from 2019 to date. Back in January, he ran a fine race to storm to a new PB of 46.19s, topping the national outdoor list in the event. He is followed by Nathaniel Samson with a Season’s Best (SB) of 47.08s, while Chidera Nnamani is 3rd on the toplist with an SB of 47.61s. National Champion Ojeli will make a return to the event, and one can only imagine how exciting the men’s 400m promises to be.
Reigning National Sports Festival (NSF) Champion in the women’s 400m, Imaobong Nse Uko will be favoured to win the event just like she did back in January, setting an SB of 53.98s in the process. Blessing Ovwighoadjebre finished 2nd in 55.32s, holding off Blessing Oladoye who got 3rd in 55.38s.
The rivalry in the 110m Hurdles is set to continue as the Top 3 finishers from the 1st All-Comers, National Champion Oyeniyi Abejoye, Samuel Osadolor and Martins Ogierakhi pick up from where they left off proceedings the last time.
Kemi Petersen will be aiming to return to winning ways this time around after placing 2nd in the 100m Hurdles last time as Ese Awusa ran unnoticed from Lane 8 to stun the rest of the field to win the event.
One athlete who will be making a return to the track after more than a year away is reigning National Champion in the men’s 400m Hurdles Timothy Emoghene. Emoghene’s last competition on the domestic scene was the AFN Classics held in Ekiti early last year, and he will be banking on a good start to the season. However, he will have to contend with Prior Ochonogor who won the event with 53.12s ahead of Teslim Oyedele (53.71s).