Team Nigeria raked in more than a handful of medals on Athletics Day 2 at the 12th African Games in Rabat, with as many as six athletes from the country making a podium appearance.
Speedster Raymond Ekevwo and Weight Thrower Chukwuebuka Enekwechi were the athletes who went all the way to claim individual titles, clinching Gold in the men’s 100m and Shot Put respectively.
Two Team Nigeria athletes in Oyeniyi Abejoye and Temi Ogunrinde also emerged Silver medalists just as Usheoritse Itsekiri and Sade Olatoye each picked a Bronze medal on the day.
Samuel Osadolor went off the mark first to win the 110m Hurdles in the men’s Decathlon earlier in the day before improving on his decent form to take the Discus Throw as well.
However, it was not to be for the 26-year-old as he came overall 4th on the standings at the end of the day, with his three other North African rivals filling up the medal positions.
Later in the afternoon, Tobi Amusan had a easy win her heat for the women’s 100m Hurdles, clocking 12.69s. Meanwhile, her compatriot Ruth Francis came 4th in the same heat with a time 13.86s.
Grace Ayemoba also came 4th in the second heat but with a faster 13.59s time in her case. With Francis and Ayemoba’s times being the fastest clocked outside the top three in both heats, both provisionally secured a spot in Wednesday’s final alongside Amusan.
In the women’s 400m semi-finals, youngster Favour Ofili delivered a big statement to her veteran rivals ahead Wednesday’s final as she paced down the home straight, tearing off Grace Obour and Beatrice Masilingi to win the second heat with 51.94s.
Patience Okon-George also secured her place in the final having clocked 51.96s to finish 3rd in the other heat. Emmanuel Ojeli and Chidi Okezie did well to each finish 2nd in their respective semi-final heats in the men’s 400m.& Orukpe Erayokan however did not start in his own heat.
Joy Udo-Gabriel clocked 11.44s to finish 4th in the women’s 100m final as it was Ivory Coast’s Marie Jose TaLou who carried the day with a time 11.09s to clinch Gold. Nigeria’s Aniekeme Alphonsus finished 8th with 11.78s in the same race.
As one could easily have predicted considering their performance in the heats and semis, the duo of Ekevwo and Itsekiri each delivered a medal for Team Nigeria in the men’s 100m.
Ekevwo clocked a Personal Best 9.96s to nick the win on the finish line ahead Ivory Coast’s Arthur Cisse who finished only a hundredth of a second later, with National Champion Itsekiri placing 3rd to pick Bronze.
Thereafter, Enekwechi emerged Shot Put champion after throwing 21.48m to clinch the win in the final of the event while his compatriot Dotun Ogundeji finished 4th with a throw of 20.06m. Abejoye couldn’t topple Algeria’s Amine Bouanani in the men’s 110m Hurdles final so had to settle for Silver, having clocked 13.90s.
Ogunrinde was the other Nigerian athlete who clinched Silver on the day after hitting the 64.68m mark in the women’s Hammer Throw just as her compatriot Sade Olatoye emerged 3rd best with a mark of 63.97m and picked Bronze.
Team Nigeria’s sole competitor in the men’s 800m, Edose Ibadin saw an end to his campaign after clocking 1:49.37 to finish 8th in the Heat 2 of the semi-finals. In the 4x100m Relays held much later in the evening, Team Nigeria’s quartets in the men and women’s category each won their heat to secure a place in Wednesday’s final.
Quartet of Blessing Okagbare, Mercy Ntia-Obong, Joy Udo-Gabriel & Rosemary Chukwuma have won Heat 2 of the women’s 4x100m Relay with a time of 43.49s. With rivals Cote d’Ivoire failing to start, Blessing Okagbare shook off her 100m elimination disappointment and inspired her colleagues to win Heat 2 with a time of 43.49s.
Moments later, Divine Oduduru featured as Team Nigeria beat competition from Gambia to win Heat 1 in the men’s category with a time of 39.15s.