Grace Nzubechi Nwokocha’s 11.38 seconds finish in the women’s 100m, the first sub 11.4 seconds run on Nigerian soil in 24 months headlined the first Athletics Federation of Nigeria Classics held at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti at the weekend.
Nwokocha, who was first denied this piece of history a fortnight ago at the AFN All-Comers competition in Akure by a massive trail wind raced home first ahead of Praise Idamadudu (11.59) and Ofoku Praise (11.80)
Her performance fetched her triple awards viz the best athlete in the women’s blue ribband race, best overall female athlete and performance of the day.
The first two awards came with cash prizes courtesy of former Nigeria and African 100m champion and Olympic 4x100m silver medallist, Oludamola Osayomi, a proud daughter of Ekiti State.
No Nigerian athlete based at home has dipped inside 11.4 seconds since Isoken Igbinosun last did in February 2018 in Abuja until Nwokocha’s feat in Ado Ekiti.
While Nwokocha made it a clean sweep of the awards in the women’s events, there were two winners for the best 100m and overall best male awards and cash prizes donated by another proud indigene of Ekiti State, reigning African 100m record holder, Olusoji Adetokunbo Fasuba who was physically present at the stadium.
Enoch Adegoke ran 10.50 seconds in the 100m event ahead of Ogho-Oghene Egwero (10.55) and Idjesa Uruemu (10.62) to win the N20,000 cash prize for the fastest man at the event while Joseph Edaffiadhe’s 7.80m leap in the long jump pit was adjudged the best male performance of the day and he went home with a cash prize of N30,000.
Fasuba, the first and only African man to win the 100m title at the African Championships three consecutive times (2004,2006,2008) was delighted with the discipline and professionalism displayed by the athletes at the two-day event and urged them to train harder than they have ever done to become great forces to be reckoned with at the continent and globally.
“There is no substitute for hard work. I am impressed by the discipline the athletes have shown here and wish them all the best as they fight for qualification standards for both the African Championships in Algeria in June and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in July,’ said the 2008 World indoor champion in the 60m race.
Meanwhile the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City will play host to the next AFN event.
President of the federation, Olamide George said the event scheduled for the 14th of March, 2020 will be used to test the facilities, including the newly laid tartan track at the stadium ahead of the athletics event of the 2020 National Sports Festival which the state is hosting.
‘We are delighted with what we have done so far. We want to give our athletes as many competitions as possible as they strive to make the qualification standards for the two major events we have this year and the National Trials,” said George who expressed delight with the conduct of the athletes in Akure for the Allcomers event and Ado Ekiti for the Classics.
“Together and with the support we are receiving from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development headed by Sunday Dare, the athletes’ minister, we will reposition track and field administration in Nigeria,” he concluded.