The 2019 Nigerian Athletics Championships in Kaduna has produced new champions across various fields, especially in the sprint races.
The duo of Usheoritse Itsekiri and Joy Udo-Gabriel emerged tops in the men and women 100m races respectively in the championship doubling as the National Trials for the African Games billed for Morocco next month.
Itsekiri, with a time of 10.23s, won the men’s 100m race while Making of Champions (MoC) Udo-Gabriel claimed her first senior National title; winning the women’s 100m final with a time of 11.58s.
Itsekiri came to the championship in Kaduna with the fastest time of 10.07s, which he set earlier in the season to qualify for the World Championships in Doha.
Though he could not produce the best of races, his finish time of 10.23s was good enough for the first position. Enoch Adegoke finished close 2nd with a time of 10.25s.
Three-time national champion, Seye Ogunlewe, came in 3rd in 10.27s.
For the women’s race, Udo-Gabriel was way ahead of her rivals with her winning time of 11.58s.
Grace Nwokocha finished 2nd in 11.70s while Rosemary Chukwuma placed 3rd in 11.74s.
Itsekiri extended his dominance to the 200m where he won the final with a time of 20.97s.
Favour Ofili ran the fastest time across in the women’s 200m finals, beating Amarachukwu Obi to win Heat 2 with a time of 23.35s. Udo-Gabriel was second fastest overall, winning Heat 4 with a Season’s Best (SB) of 24.08s.
Emmanuel Ojeli was the winner of the men’s 400m title with a time of 45.93s. Orukpe Eraiyokan with a time of 46.35s came 2nd as Shedrack Akpeki ran a PB of 46.54s to place 3rd.
Patience Okon-George led from start to finish to win the women’s 400m, thus claiming her fourth National title in the process.
She inspired Ofili to a new PB of 51.90s in 2nd place as Amarachukwu Obi also set a PB of 52.03s to settle for 3rd place.
In the men’s 800m final, Adebisi Sodiq held sway, winning the race with a time of 1:51.91s.
In the women’s final, Comfort James won her first 800m National title, racing to victory in a time of 2:15.03.
Martins Ogieriakhi upstaged Nigerian leader, Abejoye Oyeniyi, in the men’s 110m Hurdles final, winning with a Seasons Best time of 14.02s.
It was a similar development in the women’s 100m Hurdles where Kemi Francis sailed past Grace Ayemoba to win in a time of 14.02s.
The men’s 400m Hurdles final was tactically won by Timothy Emoghene with a new PB of 50.45s, thus qualifying for next month’s African Games in Morocco.
Henry Okorie ran a SB of 50.59s to finish 2nd and Destiny Oyedele 3rd in 50.91s.
Nigeria’s long-distance running couple, Emmanuel Gyang and Deborah Pam, dominated the 5000m, with the husband winning the men’s category in 14:54.71 while the wife won in the women’s race in 17:14.41.
Best Erhire continued his upward swing to emerge as the new National Champion, in men’s High Jump.
He won with a new PB of 2.12m, which also secures his qualification for the African Games.
Esther Isah won the women’s High Jump event as she crossed over the 1.81m mark. Teammate Temitope Adeshina was ecstatic after jumping a new PB of 1.80m on her third attempt in the women’s High Jump. Adeshina last month jumped a then PB of 1.75m in Abuja.
In the men’s Long Jump, Joseph Edafiadhe leapt to victory in the event, winning with a mark of 7.54m. In the women’s event, Precious Okoronkwo left it till her last jump to snatch the victory, winning with a leap of 6.05m.
Queen Obisesan won the National title in women’s Hammer, snatching the win with a throw of 65.19m.
Samuel Kure Adams threw a distance of 74.33m to win the men’s Javelin title, while Kelechi Nwanaga won the women’s category.
Tunde Eludini is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria where he studied International Relations. He is a Senior Correspondent coordinating the sports section for PREMIUM TIMES. Twitter: @tundeyeludini