Review of Athletics at the National Sports Festival in Edo
It was a tale of glory, dominance, rivalry and disappointment at the much-anticipated track and field events at the National Sports Festival in Edo.
With their big primacy, Team Delta were favourites to sweep most of the medals and they did not disappoint, but representatives from equally big teams like Akwa, Lagos and Edo gave them a run for their money in quite a number of events.
Delta’s Grace Nwokocha was arguably the athlete who had the best outing of all on the track as she claimed the sprints double with flying victories in the women’s 100m and 200m.
Having previously met the women’s 100m qualification standard for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics two weeks ago at the MoC Grand Prix in Lagos – clocking a PB 11.09s to claim the win in the final then, Nwokocha further proved that she’s got all it takes to fly the country’s flag high at the summer games with her brilliant performances in the event at the Festival.
Indeed, she outclassed her competitors en route Monday’s final but there she faced a big test from her biggest rival in Joy Udo Gabriel from Team Lagos. Her weak start to the race almost gave her away but she recovered well mid-race and just edged Gabriel by two-hundredth of a second to claim the win in 11.42s. She extended her dominance even further in the women’s 200m in the final of which she impressively stormed to a Lifetime Best of 22.79s to clinch Gold and as well seal qualification to the Olympics in the event.
In the men’s 100m final, it was a 1-2 finish for Team Edo’s duo of Enoch Adegoke and Alaba Akintola. Adegoke edged his friend and rival Akintola by just a hundredth of a second to claim the win with 10.28s. Meanwhile, Akintola later got the chance to shine in the 200m as he beat Lagos’ Jerry Jakpa (20.59s) to victory in the final, clocking 20.51s.
Nse Uko Imaobong from Team Akwa was indeed matchless in the women’s 400m and it wasn’t much of a surprise that she defeated veteran Patience Okon George in the final with a Scorching PB of 51.70s.
Representing Team Delta, Chidi Okezie beat Lagos’ Emmanuel Ojeli to the win in the men’s 400m final, clocking a winning time of 45.60s.
The results of the sprint hurdles were quite predictable; River’s Grace Ayemoba beat Miracle Thompson from Team Lagos in the women’s 100m Hurdles to clinch Gold with 13.65s, just as sure favourite Abejoye Oyeniyi won the 110m Hurdles with 13.79s.
Abasiono Akpan from Team Akwa won the women’s 400m Hurdles with 57.63s while Delta’s Timothy Emoghene got the better of Henry Okorie in the men’s category with a winning time of 50.06s.
In the long-distance races, Joy David from Team Delta clocked 2:06.98 to beat Comfort James, who had to settle for second place (2:09.63), and clinch Gold in the women’s 800m. Akwa’s Eddidong Okon had no problems winning in the men’s category with a time of 1:49.87.
Interestingly, it was David versus James again for the women’s 1500m final, and it was the former who got the edge once again. David claimed the win with 4:34.27 while James settled for second place with 4:36.50. Cross River’s Soudi Yaya upstaged Hamid Sambo from Team Edo in the men’s category, clocking 3:53.31 to clinch Gold.
Plateau’s Rose Akusho outclassed the rest of the field in the women’s 5000m final where she clocked 17:13.95 to win.
Team Edo made light work of the 20km racewalk as they claimed Gold in both the men and women’s category. Olude Florence crossed the line in 1:40.05 – at least 15 minutes better than the time of her closest competitor – in the women’s race just as Dele Elegbede completed the double sweep for Edo with a winning time of 1:42.16 in the men’s.
On the field, David Aya pulled off a stunner to beat favourite Mike Edwards to the men’s High Jump Gold having had a better series of result than Cyprian Oyedele and Edwards, who finished second and third respectively, although all three scaled the 2.15m mark. Lagos’ Adeshina Temitope won the women’s High Jump Gold with 1.80m.
Of course, no one could stand in the way of Team Delta’s Ese Brume, clinching Gold in the women’s Long Jump as she won with a mark of 6.46m. Tochukwu Nwoko from Team Oyo won the men’s equivalent with 7.66m.
Blessing Ibrahim of Team Rivers clinched Gold in the women’s Triple Jump final with 13.30m just as Delta’s Ihezue Nzube got the men’s Triple Jump title with a mark of 16.37m.
In the throws, Delta’s Ibrahim Baba won the men’s Hammer with a heave of 46.39m while Esther Osisike from Team Akwa won the women’s equivalent with 45.47m. Utitofon James clinched the women’s Discus with 48.36m just as the men‘s Discus was won by Rivers’ Ebubechukwu Ugwoke with a mark of 54.04m.
Rivers’ Chioma Enomuo (41.93m) and Anambra’s Nnamdi Chinaecherem (73.17m) won the women and men’s Javelin Throw respectively. In the Shot Put, Frank Erobosa from Team Edo (16.12m) and Abia’s Eke Kalu (16.89m) won in the women and men’s categories respectively.
In the relays, Team Delta didn’t even really feel the absence of double sprints champion Grace Nwokocha, who had to be rested, as Ese Brume led them to Gold in the women’s 4x100m final with 44.37s. Meanwhile, Team Edo starring Enoch Adegoke and Alaba Akintola won the men’s 4x100m relays final.