The 2021 athletics season in Nigeria officially began over the weekend in Akure, as over 500 athletes were in attendance in an Athletics Federation of Nigeria [AFN] All-Comers Meet.
After a rocky 2020 season with minimal competitions because of COVID-19, the meet, a meeting in which some athletic contests are held, signaled the start of what seems to be an exceptional year for Nigeria Athletics, as the athletes are already displaying fantastic times.
Enoch Adegoke was undoubtedly the star athlete at the Athletics meet, as the 2018 Commonwealth Games 100m finalist raced to an early world leading time of 10.16s to win the men’s 100m final.
Adegoke finished ahead of Godson Brume, who himself set a new personal best record of 10.27s while the 2018 Youth Olympics Silver medalist, Alaba Akintola, placed third in 10.40s. This is the fastest ever season opener by Adegoke, who has a lifetime best of 10.12s, set in 2019.
Fast-rising athlete, Favour Ashe, the Final B with 10.50s, with Mabilo Nicholas (10.61s) and Oche Emmanuel (10.61s) finishing second and third, respectively. National champion Joy Udo-Gabriel, powered through in the Women’s 100m final, finishing in 11.72s. Praise Idamadudu posted a season’s best of 11.81s for second place as Esther Okon settled for third in 11.87s.
In the half-lap event, Ojeli Ifeanyi of Making of Champions [MoC] had the overall fastest time with a personal best of 20.78s to win Heat 3. His teammates, Jakpa Jerry (20.94s) and John Clifford (21.17s) won heats 12 and 11 respectively to rank overall second and third.
In the women’s 200m, Esther Okon recorded the fastest time of 23.82s to win heat 4 while Idamadudu Praise won heat 5 in 23.96s to rank second and Godbless Tima finished third in 24.32s.
Saving the best for the last, Sikiru Adeyemi won the last heat of the men’s 400m equaling his personal best time of 46.17s, which was the same time he ended the 2020 season with in Asaba at the Okowa Post COVID-19 Meet. Two-time National Champion, Nathaniel Samson, finished overall second, posting a time of 47.08s while Nnamani Chidera was third in 47.61s.
After winning the 400m Gold at the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja, Nse Imaobong competed just twice in 2019 but came back stronger at the 2020 Okowa Meet running 53.16s. She has now started her 2021 campaign with 53.98s to rank fastest at the All-Comers Meet. Blessing Onome clocked 55.32s to finish second as 2019 World Championship representative, Blessing Oladoye, finished closely with 55.38s.
Top three in the men’s 400m hurdles final were Prior Ochonogor (53.19s), Oyedele Teslim (53.71s) and Bakre Gbenga (54.75s). Joseph Esther won the women’s event with 62.79s and in second was Nwokike Adaeze (63.98s) and Onyide Folusho (71.36s).
In the sprint hurdles, Abejoye Oyeniyi came from behind to win the men’s 110mh with a season’s best of 14.23s. It was a close finish between Osadolor Samuel and Martins Ogieriahki but Samuel had a better time of 14.31s while Martins posted 14.33s.
Awusa Ese was the surprise winner in the women’s 100m hurdles, crossing the tape in 14.35s ahead of African Games medalist, Francis Kemi (14.36s) and Ayanleke Stella (14.53s). Agofure Charity was the woman to beat in the 800m, clocking 2:17.77s ahead of Duke Esther (2:20.01s) and Verity Umaru (2:21.24s).
Hamid Sambo won the men’s 1500m with 4:00.41s while Oyebode Sunday won the men’s 10,000m with 32:51.15s. National Record holder, Fadekemi Olude, comfortably won the Women’s 5km Walk with 23:20.30s.
Away from the track, the top three in the men’s Shot Put were Ofoku Nyechovwo (11.88m), Ibrahim Friday (10.8m) and Ogboagu Emmanuel (10.77m).
Osisike Esther threw a distance of 47.16m to win the Women’s Discus ahead of Comfort Anietie (46.40m) and Ogbukwo Eucharia (34.73m). Interestingly, 5.85m was enough for Precious Okoronkwo to win the women’s Long Jump event with Ruth Agadama placing second with 5.67m and Nwokike Joy placed third with an identical 5.67m throw.
Nzube Zola won the men’s event with 7.33m. Akintokun Bode came in second with a leap of 7.26m for 2nd while Afoke Oshasha finished 1cm behind with a 7.25m leap.
Adams Kure has been the National Javelin Champion since 2016 and he kept his position with a distance of 74.69m as Ogboagu Emmanuel (47.63m) and Erewa Law (29.04m) settled for second and third.
The AFN All-Comers meet is a way to prepare the athletes ahead of the National Sports Festival meant to start February 14 in Benin, Edo State.
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