History was made on Saturday in Ogun State as the South-West state became the first city to host an international Ultra Race in this part of the world.
The race (50km) was flagged off at the Gateway International Stadium, Sagamu.
The president of the International Association of Ultra Race, Nadeem Khaled, expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the organisers and promised to develop the sport in Africa.
He said: “It’s a fantastic race, we were around to witness the championship. This is great for Nigeria and Africa and I must say congratulations to the continent as a whole.
“The organizing is very good to organize such an event, they have done a fantastic job and looking forward to being here in the nearest future.
“This is the first time we are having this championship in Africa, that’s why we have few athletics participating this is a great start for the continent and hope to have more in Africa.
“Women participating in this event have also got to 50% and we are working to have more women in the race. Once the sports are developed I’m sure we will be having more in sports. I love the culture and people of Africa, I would love to be here once again,” the Ultra Race boss added.
On his part, the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, has promised to make his state the sports hub of the country.
“We are proudly hosting the first ultra-race in Africa, we are glad to set the pace. We are very proud to continue to invest in sporting activities in the state and enhance our social and economic value,” he said.
South Africa dominated Saturday’s event raking in five medals at the inaugural edition of the ultra-distance showpiece.
Thobile Mbolekwa, who had lined up as the pre-race favourite, lived up to the tag by hauling in Zimbabwean athlete Prosper Mutirwa in the closing stages of the men’s race and breaking clear to win gold in 3:00:02.
Charging over the line, Mbolekwa finished more than five minutes ahead of Mutirwa, who held on to take the runner-up spot in 3:05:25. Iliya Pam Mwa earned bronze for hosts Nigeria in 3:12:39.
Mthokozisi Mazibuko finished sixth and Mahlomola Sekhonyana took 10th place to secure a comfortable victory for the Rainbow Nation in the team competition.
In the women’s race, South African athlete Sanelisiswe Mbanjwa stunned the rest of the field when she coasted to a commanding gold medal win in 3:34:05, with only 11 men finishing ahead of her in the overall results.
Elizabeth Power Nuhu took the silver medal for Nigeria in 3:47:39, while South African trail runner Leilani Scheffer was edged into third position to clock 3:48:01.
With Cobie Smith grabbing the fifth spot in the individual contest, the SA women’s squad held off a strong challenge from Nigeria to grab the gold medal in the team competition.