Heading into this Festival, the conventional wisdom was that the men’s High Jump title was Mike Edwards’ to lose. He was coming off the back of a convincing victory at the Betking/3rd MoC Grand Prix, where he scaled 2.15m.
The rain came down in the evening ahead of the final session of Day 3 of Athletics at the 20th National Sports Festival but the rain stopped just ahead of the start of the High Jump and the bed dried quickly and didn’t seem to have any lasting effect on the five men in the final.
The competition started in earnest when the bar was raised to 1.80m with four of the jumpers passing up on 1.75m.
Cyprian Oyedele of Lagos State and David Aya of Delta State started their series from 1.85 and were flawlessly entering the 2.00m mark. In the meantime, Edwards (Rivers State), who is the defending champion from the last festival passed up on all these heights as he kicked off his series at 2.05m.
The next stop was 2.10m. Edwards cleared at the first attempt, which left Aya and Oyedele, who both have that mark as their Personal Best (PB). They both failed at their first attempt, before scaling the mark at the second attempt.
At 2.15m, the tension started to show with everyone, well, maybe not Mike, having cleared the height numerous times in his career.
Oyedele was up first, and he flew straight over the bar, and though there was a little “heart in the mouth” moment when the bar shook a bit, it stayed up and gave him the lead at that point. Aya stepped up and buoyed by the crowd cheering, he scaled over the mark to put him in 2nd at that point.
And at that point, Edwards needed a big jump. He missed his first two attempts on the height and he was on the ropes. He however was able to clear the third attempt.
The three jumpers all went at 2.18m next and they all didn’t clear. Aya took GOLD based on a countback, Oyedele won Silver, with Edwards taking Bronze.