Sports Festival: Akwa Ibom’s Okon-George, Nse To Clash For 400M Gold

By Daily sports on April 11, 2021

Views: 274

Ifeanyi Ojeli and Patience Okon-George emerged the athletes to beat on the second day of the Athletics Event following their impressive performances in the Men And Women’s 400M semi-finals of the 20th National Sports Festival.

The race held on Saturday morning at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, the capital of Edo State where the biggest sporting event in the country is taking place.

Ojeli, competing for Lagos became the second Nigerian athlete to break 46 seconds in 2021 as he effortlessly won the first of the three semi-final heats.

He ran 45.99 seconds to finish first ahead of Okezie Chidi of Delta State who came second with 46.32 seconds to take the second automatic slot.

Nathaniel Samson also ran 46.72 seconds to win the second semi-final ahead of pre-race favourite, Sikiru Adeyemi of Oyo State who raced 46.82 seconds.

In the third semi-final, Johnson Nnamani of Enugu State posted 47.36 seconds to win ahead of Afam Ogbuagu of Anambra State who finished in 47.85 seconds, while Bayelsa State’s Olanrewaju Eriolowa with a time of 48.09 seconds and Imo’s Destiny Majemite who finished in 48.20 seconds completed the eight-man list for Sunday’s final.

In the women’s 400M, Okon-George proved that she was still the athlete to beat after easily winning her semi-final heat with a commanding 52.79 seconds run, while Ovwighoadkebere Blessing of Bayelsa State (54.30 seconds) and Josephine Oloye of Ondo State (54.66 seconds) secured the remaining automatic slots for the final in the heat.

Nse Imaobong was also impressive in the other semi-final heat, crossing the finish line in 53.29 seconds to win ahead of Blessing Oladoye of Lagos State (54.13 seconds) and Opeyemi Oke of Ondo State (54.33 seconds).

Joy Usenbor of Ondo State (54.42 seconds) and Delta State’s Glory Patrick (54.90 seconds) completed the line-up for the final which would be a battle for supremacy between two Akwa Ibom athletes, Okon-George and Nse Uko.

Interestingly, Okon-George won on the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium track in March 2020, producing 51.84 seconds in her first and final competition, and has been tipped as favourite to win on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Edo State led the track and field medals table on Saturday, winning two gold medals from the opening day.

The duo of Fadekemi Olude with a time of 1 hour, 40 minutes, 05 seconds, and Dele Elegbede recording 1 hour, 42 minutes, 16 seconds, gave Edo the first gold in the Women and Men’s 20KM walk race to put the hosts in a good position to compete for more medals in track and field.

Ibrahim Baba of Delta State with a throw of 46.39m won gold in the Men’s Hammer event while fast-improving Utitofon James confirmed her superiority with a throw of 48.36m to win the Women’s Discus event.

Rivers State also picked its first gold of the festival through sprint hurdler when Grace Aiyemoba ran 13.65 seconds to win the 100M hurdles while Oyeniyi Abejoye from Lagos picked the Men’s 110M hurdles gold with a time of 13.79 seconds.

Rose Akusho completed the gold medal haul for the opening day of track and field, running 17minutes, 13.95 seconds to win the 5000M event for Plateau State.

The Men and Women’s 100M final would be concluded on Saturday with Grace Nwokocha tipped as the overwhelming favourite to win, following her very dominant displays in the Nigerian athletics scene since 2020.

The Delta State athlete has won all available local events and raced to an impressive 11.09 personal best in March.

The time remains the fastest ever run on Nigerian soil by a home-based athlete in over two decades and the fastest since Blessing Okagbare ran 11.02 seconds to win the 100M gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games trials in Sapele, Delta State.

Nwokocha will have the trio of Ese Brume (11.69), Praise Ofoku (11.67), and Joy Udo-Gabriel (11.66) challenging for the silver and bronze medals for Team Delta and Team Lagos respectively, with the pretty Udo-Gabriel who ran a new 11.34 seconds personal best some 12 days ago in Lagos ahead in the battle for silver. (Channels TV)

•PHOTO: Athletes participate in the Men’s 400M Semi-Finals of the 20th National Sports Festival at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, the Edo State capital.

Source Daily sports

Posted April 11, 2021


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