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Organisers of 4th MoC Grand Prix foresees Nigeria as hub of athletics in Africa

Posted : 03 June 2024

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Bambo Akani, Founder of Making of Champions (MoC), the organizer of the 4th MoC Grand Prix, said on Sunday that he foresees a golden era when Nigeria will become the hub of athletics in Africa.

Akani made this assertion in an exclusive interview against the backdrop of the successful completion of the MoC Grand Prix.

The 4th MoC Grand Prix was held at the Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech) sports ground and featured, for the first time, runners from outside Africa, including some Iranian sprinters.

Akani said that the grand prix was working towards achieving the next level for the race.

"I am very impressed with the way the 4th MoC turned out, involving some sprinters from outside Nigeria. That was the first of its kind.

"I am also excited about the return of the Grand Prix after it failed to hold for two consecutive years. The last one was held in 2021, just before the Olympics.

"This one (4th edition) is also a qualifier for the Olympics, although we did not have any sprinter that gained automatic qualifications.

"The fact remains that we have quality sprinters that are doing well. They may not be among the fastest men, but they will surely get to the right time," he said.

Akani also declared that Nigeria has what it takes to take over the reign of athletics in Africa, just like in the early and late '90s dominance.

"Fortunately, Nigeria has the tools and the caliber of athletes that can compete with the rest of the world, including the fastest of them all.

"We have athletes such as Godson Brume and Favour Ashe in the bracket of good timing in Africa.

"With the constant development of this 4th Grand Prix, I foresee a period where many athletes will come to Nigeria to qualify for the Olympics.

"I am also expecting that the current Nigerian stars are going to be the most exciting athletes after some lapses in the last decade," he said.

Justina Eyakpobeyan was the star of the track on Day 2 of the 4th MoC Grand Prix in Yabatech, Lagos, powering to a new Personal Best (PB) of 11.24s (+0.9) to win the keenly contested women’s 100m.

She broke the PB she set at the Commonwealth Youth Games last year in Trinidad and Tobago.

Eyakpobeyan, who was Nigeria’s leadoff at the African Games, got off to a bullet start and held off a closing Olayinka Olajide by a hair’s breadth as the latter finished 2nd in 11.25s.

The field, which was of the highest quality, saw Precious Nzeakor finish 3rd in a PB of 11.47s.

In the men’s race, Sunday Israel Okon showed that his victory at the African Games Trials was no fluke as he beat a stacked field, equalling his PB of 10.20s (+1.2).

He inspired a very strong Olaolu Jason Olatunde to a new PB of 10.33s, while Fakorede Nicholas finished 3rd in 10.42s.

Also, Esther Joseph got out well in the women’s 400m, leading by halfway and holding her ground to bring home the win in a Meet Record (MR) of 52.00s.

She finished ahead of Esther Okon, who improved to a new Personal Best (PB) of 52.71s to finish 2nd, a nice chunk off her previous PB from the African Games Trials.

Chioma Nwachukwu finished 3rd in 53.05s (PB), while Patience Okon-George, who was one of the red-hot favorites going into the race, was disqualified for a false start.

In the men’s 400m, Emmanuel Ojeli emerged clear in a Season’s Best (SB) of 46.14s, defeating Adeyemi Sikiru who was 2nd in 46.56s to retain his title, while Samson Nathaniel was 3rd in 46.89s.

Faith Osamuyi was one of the athletes who set MRs at the 4th MoC Grand Prix, posting the fourth fastest time of her career in 13.58s (-0.2) to win the women’s 100m hurdles.

She finished ahead of Grace Ayemoba, who had the former MR at 13.66s, the latter clocking 14.01s in 2nd place.

Samuel Osadolor got the better of Wisdom Musa in the men’s 110m hurdles, snatching victory in a time of 14.21s (-1.3) to the latter’s 14.25s. Martins Ogieriakhi finished 3rd in 14.59s.

The field was no match for Iran’s Mahdi Pirjahan, who won the men’s 400m hurdles in a Season’s Best (SB) and MR of 50.39s.

He was over two seconds ahead of his closest rival, Gbenga Bakre, who clocked 52.52s and Sodiq Adebisi in 52.93s.

In the women’s equivalent, Taiwo Kudoro ran a new PB of 60.81s to emerge winner over Damilola Alli, who in her second race over the distance, shaved three seconds off her best, coming in 2nd in 61.71s. Daisy Akpofa was 3rd in 62.03s.

His teammate Sobhan Ahmadi dominated the men’s 800m, breaking the MR with a time of 1:48.53, the fastest time on Nigerian soil in six years. He finished ahead of Adedokun Ayobami, who returned a time of 1:50.11.

African Games finalist Comfort James won the women’s race in an MR of 2:06.75, the fourth fastest time of her career, to finish ahead of a well-improved Mercy Audu, who set a new PB of 2:16.96 in 2nd place.

On the field, Cameroonians Gama Derick Chiambah and Veronica Kossenda Rey dominated the men’s and women’s Triple Jump, respectively.

Chiambah won the men’s event with a new PB of 16.21m, beating Goodluck Fiaku, who jumped 14.91m.

This was before Fiaku had cleared a PB and equalled the MR of 2.15m to the delight of the crowd, to win the men’s High Jump.

Goodluck Fiaku equalled the men’s High Jump Meet Record and also improved on his Personal Best.

Kossenda Rey jumped a mark of 13.29m (-1.3) to take the women’s Triple Jump, while Peace Ewa won the women’s High Jump event with a new PB of 1.78m.

Meanwhile, Prestina Ochonogor dominated the women’s Long Jump, being the only athlete in the field to surpass 6m, going out to 6.54m on her fourth attempt.

Cameroon’s Appolinaire Yinra then edged Afoke Oshasha in the men’s Long Jump, reaching 7.23m to win over the Nigerian’s best attempt of 7.20m.


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