The 12th African Junior Athletics Championships came to a climax last Sunday with Nigeria finishing tops amongst the countries on parade.
Thirty-three athletes represented the country in Addis Ababa, with a good number of them distinguishing themselves and making Nigeria proud.
The delegation did however not get the heroic welcome it truly deserve on arrival back to Nigeria on Monday.
Here, PREMIUM TIMES highlights the top performers in the TEAM Nigeria’s contingent to Addis Ababa.
Ese Brume: Accounting for three gold medals from the country’s total haul of 12 is no small feat as Brume continues her upward swing in mainstream athletics. The 19-year old Delta-state born athletics star secured gold medals in record-breaking fashion in the Long Jump and Triple Jump events before capping it up with another gold in the 4x100m Women’s Relay event. Aside the three gold medals, Brume also won Bronze in the 100m events.
Divine Oduduru: Oduduru’s rapid progress and continuous improvement has continually given joy to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria and the Nigerian athletics family in general as he looks set to finally fill the vacuum created by the likes of Olusoji Fasuba and the Deji Aliu. Just like Brume, Oduduru, also from Delta State, won three gold medals for the country. The young sprinter won the 100 and 200m gold medals and was part of the 4x100m relay quartet that posted an impressive 39.99secs time to emerge tops.
Oluwatobi Amusan: Based in Ogun State, South West Nigeria, Amusan prides herself as wining Nigeria’s first gold medal at the AFrican Junior Championship in Ethiopia where she beat all comers in the 100m hurdles event. On arrival in Lagos, Amusan told PREMIUM TIMES it was a hard-earned medal which she dedicated to all those that have supported her and believe in her. For the emerging hurdler, who has American star Allyson Felix has a role model, this is just the beginning of better things to come even as she already has her eyes on breaking into the Nigeria senior team to the All African Games.
Praise Idamadudu: Idamadudu was another multiple medallist for Nigeria. She overcame Ethiopia’s Tigist Tamagnu to take victory in the women’s 200m in 23.76 on the final day of action and returned to action in the 4x400m relay two hours later as Nigeria comfortably beat Ethiopia.
Tosin Adeloye : Despite the stiff challenge from South Africa and Botswana, Adeloye scooped gold medal for Team Nigeria in the 400m event and was also a key member of the quartet that won the 4x400m relay gold also. Her performance did catch the fancy of AFN board member, Falilat Ogunkoya, who in her hey days, was one of the world’s best quarter miler. Just like her other colleagues, Ogunkoya predicts a bright future for Adeloye who she says, with more hard work and better training, can build on her successes in Ethiopia.
Temidayo Osinbanjo: Her gold medal in the energy-sapping Heptalon event got many tongues wagging as she was virtually considered an outsider in the event. One of the Nigerian coaches to Ethiopia, Kayode Yaya, actually pointed at Osinbanjo as the greatest revelation for Nigeria at this year’s AYC. The tenacity of the young athlete sure deserves the accolade: Osinbanjo posted 14.37s in the 100m hurdles, 1.57m in the High Jump, 9.51m in the Shot Put, 25.40s in the 200m, 5.66m in Long Jump, 26.48m in the Javelin Throw and 2:34.87s in the 800m, amassing a total of 4765 points to win gold. She was followed by Kaiqtion Kruquer of Namibia (4641points) and South Africa’s Nienka Du Toit of South Africa (4490points).
Abdulahi Bashiru: Abdulahi joins Oduduru as the only other individual gold-winning male athlete to Ethiopia having finshed tops in the 110m hurdles event.
Aniekeme Alphonsus, Omotayo Abolaji, Blessing Adiakerehwa: The trio were part of the Nigeria 4×100 Gold winning relay quartet.
Thankgod Igube, Victor Peka, Chukwudi Olisakwe: The trio were part of the Nigeria 4x100m wining quartet who posted an inspiring 39.99secs wining time.
Esther Asamu and Yinka Ajayi: The duo are the other two members who combined with Iduamadudu and Adeloye to win gold in the 4x400m relay event.
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