The women’s 400m final provided for an enthralling spectacle for the few fans at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium, and in a race that was billed as experience against youth, it was the youth that prevailed as Nse Uko Imaobong produced a rip-roaring victory over Patience Okon-George.
Imaobong, who is unbeaten over the distance this year, bided her time before unleashing a devastating burst of speed over the last 150m to blow away Okon-George to roar to a new Personal Best of 51.70s, and retaining her title she first won in 2018.
Okon-George was a few meters back as she took Silver for Cross River state in 52.31, her first defeat on home soil over the distance since 2018.
For a while after the race, as the slight figure of the Youth Games Champion set off on a victory lap that few expected her to be making, considering how reserved she seems to be, she went over to meet the multiple National Champion Okon-George who sat at the side of the track, stunned.
On Imaobongs path, she walked towards the timer briskly as she was clearly trying to process the fact that she had just taken 0.37s off her previous PB.
Team Ondo’s Joy Usenbor took Bronze in 54.00., Bayelsa’s Ovwighoadjebere of Delta States was fourth in 49.60, and Ondo’s Opeyemi Ojo taking fifth in 54.19.
Imaobong, who had already had never gone inside 51s in her short career before, had impressed with her smooth progress in the semi-finals, where she clocked 53.29.
But Okon-George, who looked a lot leaner than her usual self – topped the qualifiers with 52.79 and had appeared to jog home in impressive fashion.
In the end, it boiled down to both of them, and they delivered a box-office race, and one for the ages.