Samson Nathaniel and Patience Okon-George have seven national titles between them, but it was on Day 3 of Athletics at the ongoing National Sports Festival (NSF) in Asaba that the pair claimed their first ever NSF individual titles in the men’s and women’s 400m respectively.
At the 2018 and 2021 editions of the festival respectively, Nathaniel had come close to a podium finish after placing 4th both times, but he was not to be denied at Asaba 2022. Right from the heats, the two-time men’s 400m National Champion had demonstrated his intent to win the prize, clocking the fastest time overall of 46.63s across all heats. He also won his race in the semis.
In the final, the Delta State athlete remained unstoppable to emerge the clear winner, taking GOLD with a time of 46.08s. Johnson Nnamani (Bayelsa) edged out Sikiru Adeyemi (Oyo) for the Silver medal in 46.28s, while the latter got Bronze in 46.30s.
Veteran Okon-George (Cross River State) underlined why she remained the favourite to win the women’s 400m title. The five-time Nigerian Champion was fastest across the heats with a time of 53.03s, then returning a time of 53.67s to win her semifinal race.
Having come agonizingly close to winning the title last year in Edo State but settling for 2nd place, Okon-George left nothing to chance this time around and crossed the line 1st in 52.16s, her third fastest time this season. Deborah Oke ran a PB of 53.42s to finish 2nd, while Queen Usunobun was 3rd in 53.66s.
Soudi Hamajam (Cross River State) thrilled the spectators this evening, winning his second consecutive 3000m Steeplechase NSF title with a time of 9:16.57.
The men’s and women’s 4x100m relay heats got underway with Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo State winning the three heats respectively, while Rivers and