Sprinter, Blessing Okagbare, has been adjudged the best performer at the 66th edition of the All Nigeria Athletics Championships which finally came to an end on Thursday, at the U.J Eusene Stadium in Calabar.
Okagbare added the Long Jump gold to her medal haul – which includes the 100m female gold medal- with an impressive leap of 6.97m which is far beyond the 6.75m A-standard for the Olympic Games. It however falls short of the 7.12 m national record held by Atlanta 96 Gold Medalist, Chioma Ajunwa.
Okagbare who many see as the country’s brightest hope for a medal at the Olympics told PREMIUM TIMES that she feels elated to be appreciated for all her efforts.
“I am grateful for the financial support, it’s just another reason for me to work harder and continue to do my best for my country” she said.
At the final of the 3 days intense competition, athletes expectedly stepped up their efforts at making the cut to represent the country at both the London Olympics as well as the African Championships billed for Benin Republic next week
Stanley Gbagbeke was at his best as he won the male long jump event after jumping a distance of 8.20m.
For Stanley, it was double celebration seeing that he achieved a personal best record of 8.20m which is also the A-standard for the London Olympics.
The US based Delta athlete told PREMIUM TIMES that he was elated to make the A-standard of the Olympics and is ready to throw in all he’s got to have a better performance in London
In some other events decided on the final day of competition, U.S based Regina George ran to victory in 400m women’s event in her debut appearance at the annual championships as she displaced home based girls, Omolara Omothoso and Bukola Abogunloko, to second and third place respectively. George won the race in a time of 51.17 seconds.
In the male category, Kada 2009 Gold Medalist, Abiola Onakoya finally won his first All Nigerian crown with a time of 46.29secs.
In the high jump, it was Doreen Amata and Arinze Obiora who emerged tops after clearing heights of 1.86m and 2.10m respectively.
In his remark, President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Solomon Ogba commended the athletes for some level of improvement but charged them to do more as the Olympic Games is fast approaching.
“First I would like to thank the Cross River State government for their support. For the athletes, I say well done but more hard work is still required,” he said.
The AFN boss also said that he hopes the country will be able to topple South Africa at the Africa Championships in Republic of Benin starting in Port Novo, Benin Republic next week.