Athletics: Nigeria Rules Africa
New Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, Ajoke Muziat Odumosu opened the flood gates of gold for Nigeria in the final day of the African Championships.
It was an evening Nigerian officials, looked forward to a rush of medals and the athletes were favoured to win gold after their semi-final performances did not disappoint.
NUMERO UNO — Team Nigeria athletes celebrate in one of their former outings. Nigeria ruled Africa at the Athletics Championship in Benin Republic.
In the first event of the day, Ajoke proved too strong for the 400m hurdles contestants as she established an early lead from the 200m mark, she held on and coasted home without much challenge to finish 54. 99 seconds, Hayat Lambarki of Morocco finished second with 55.41, while Liberia’s Rasin McIntosh placed third with 55.99. Ajoke who won at the Nairobi 2010 championships stated after that the race that she was pleased with her performance and was hopeful of making an impact at the London 2012 Olympics.
Equally excited was Gloria Asumnu, who had to fight off stiff competition from compatriot Loretta Ozoh to clinch the women 200m gold. Asumnu powered off at the final bend, but her finishing was almost letting down as Ozoh chased her down, they both breasted the tape at 22.93, but Asumnu took the race having dipped just as Ozoh was catching up.
Noah Akwu took the bronze in the men’s 200m won by Ivory Coast’s Ben Youseff Meite with a time of 20.62 seconds. Amr Saoud of Egypt was second with 20.76, while Akwu finished 20.83.
The Nigerian women 4x400m quartet put up a brave performance and set a new championships record. It was a crowing display by the team featuring Abinuwa Enduracne, Omolara Omotosho, Margaret Etim and Bukky Abogunloko. They totally overwhelmed other competitors, and despite the hot chase by 400m world champion, Amantle Montsho, there was no stopping the Nigerian girls, they finish 3 .28. 07 seconds, to improve on their ranking on the top 16 list of qualifiers for the Olympics. Botswana was second with 3.31.27, while Senegal was third with 3.31.84.
The Nigerian men also put a commanding performance and have booked a place for the London 2012 Olympics. They Finished 3.02. 41 to the gold beating Botswana to second position.
On the field shot putter, Vivien Chukwuemeka trampled down her opponents to announce her return after a two-year ban. Looking fit and strong Chukwuemeka demonstrated that her reign in the African continent was far from been over when she heaved 18. 86m on the fifth throw, to shatter the 18.33m African record, she established in 2006. She also booked a ticket to the London 2012 Olympics Games.
Chukwuemeka was followed by compatriots into the medals podium. Chinwe Okoro 16.21m and Omotayo Talabi 15.63m ensured that Nigeria took all the spoils in the shot put.
Overall, Nigeria emerged champions, reclaiming their first position in track and field that they had lost some years ago following the decline in the sport. Now, they are winning and AFN President said “we can only give glory to God.”
Below is the medal table for the top three countries.
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Nigeria 10 6 5 21
Kenya 9 9 9 27
South Africa 6 10 8 24
Senegal 3 1 2 6
Botswana 3 1 0 4
Algeria 2 3 2 7
Morocco 2 2 3 7
Tunisia 2 1 2 5
Ghana 1 2 2 5
Ivory Coast 1 1 4 6
Uganda 1 0 1 2
Burundi 1 0 0 1