Grace Ayemoba and Abejoye Oyeniyi won the sprint hurdles on Day 1 of Athletics at the ongoing 20th National Sports Festival taking place at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium as Utitifon James cliched GOLD in the women’s Discus, while Patience Okon-George returned to action with a sizzling performance on the track.
Team Lagos’ Abejoye won the men’s 110m hurdles in a new Festival Record of 13.79s, shaving off 0.06s from the mark he set when he won in Abuja in 2018.
The African Championships Silver medallist dominated the race, building a clear advantage by midway point before pulling away for the victory. Wisdom Musa of Anambra took Silver in 14.17s as Martins Ogieriakhi of Delta State settled for Bronze in 14.18s.
Ayemoba upgraded her Silver medal from the last festival to GOLD as she won the women’s 100m hurdles for Team Rivers in a Season’s Best (SB) of 13.65s. Team Lagos’ Miracle Thompson won Silver in a new Personal Best (PB) of 13.75s, while Kemi Francis won Bronze for Team Delta with 14.01s.
Team Delta’s Grace Nwokocha picked up from where she left off at the Betking/3rd MoC Grand Prix where she qualified for the Olympics. She laid down the gauntlet to her competitors as she streaked to an 11.46s to lead the women’s 100m heats.
Her closest competitor this season has been Joy Udo-Gabriel who is competing for Team Lagos. Udo-Gabriel won her heats with 11.66s. Iyanu Bada of Team Edo was another qualifier in her heat.
After running her first 100m race of the season six days ago in Los Angeles, World Championships Bronze medallist in the Long Jump, Ese Brume laced her spikes again in the sprints for Team Delta, winning her race in 11.69s. Other winners were Team Delta’s Praise Ofoku (11:67) and Team Bayelsa’s Tima Godbless (11.89).
The men’s heats provided for enthralling spectacles for the few fans at the stadium, as Enoch Adegoke, Alaba Akintola, Ogho-Oghene Egwero, and Usheoritse Itsekiri all breezed through their heats.
Akintola, who is representing Team Edo, was the quickest with a PB of 10.32 while defending Champion, Itsekiri who is running for Team Delta was six-hundredths of a second slower in his heat.
Meanwhile, Adegoke, also running for Team Edo, seemed not to break much sweat as he won with 10.47s, as Team Delta’s Egwero, who was the champion in 2009, will be looking to spring up a surprise in the semis tomorrow after he ran 10.43s to win his heat.
Over in the 400m, Team Cross River’s Patience Okon-George was a class apart from the rest of the field as she won her heat in outstanding fashion, clocking 53.03s. Defending Champion, Nse Uko made a strong opening statement beyond her years, powering to a time of 53.65.
Glory Patrick (54.05) and Blessing Ovwighoadjebere (54.32) were also big winners in their respective heats.
In the men’s heat, two-time National Champion Samson Nathaniel powered through his heat, winning in 47.23, the same time that was giving to Abdulafeez Abdulrahman of Team Oyo.
Defending Champion Orukpe Erayokan (Team Edo) who is gunning for his third title, ran a controlled race to win in 48.76, while Emmanuel Ojeli who won Bronze last time in Abuja won his race in 47.30, with Delta’s Chidi Okezie running 47.37 for 2nd.
Rose Akusho won GOLD for Plateau State in the women’s 5000m, taking control from the second lap and running a dominant race that saw her overlap most of the field to storm to victory. Akusho claimed the win in a time of 17:13.95.
Infield, Utitifon James continued her winning streak in the women’s Discus this season as she struck GOLD for Team Akwa Ibom, reaching 48.36m. In the men’s Hammer final, Ibrahim Baba won GOLD for Delta State with the best throw of 46.39m.