By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Delta State teams at the weekend won the boys and girls 4x100m relay events to cap a brilliant outing at the 3rd edition of the Dr. D.K.Olukoya National Under-18 Athletics Championships that ended on Saturday in Lagos.
After earlier winning the boys’ 100m event at the Sports Complex of Yaba College of Technology, Divine Oduduru of West End Mixed Secondary School, Asaba, led the Delta quartet to also pick the gold medal of the 4x100m in 42.77secs.Ekiti State (43.12) placed second while FAPP Track Club settled for the bronze in 43.84secs.
Oduduru clocked 10.51secs to win the 100m while Ekiti State runner, Ismaila Yusuf (10.61secs) denied another Delta athlete, Charles Okezie (10.83) the silver.
National Sports Festival long jump champion, Ese Brume of Delta was beaten to second place in the women’s 100m by Cecilia Francis of Greater Tomorrow Athletics Club. Francis ran 11.96secs to surge ahead of Brume (12.02secs) for the gold. Amusan Oluwatobi of Buka Tee placed third with 12.06secs.
In the boy’s 200m, Ekiti State’s Ismaila Yusuf (22.00secs) and Adeyombo Adeniyi (22.30secs) won the gold and silver respectively, leaving the bronze for Charles Okezie (22.47secs) of Delta State.
Fifteen-year-old Olamide Oluwaseun of Next Level Athletics Club set a new 2,000m Steeple Chase record in the girls’ event, clocking 7mins.40: 75secs. Rutkan James of High Altitude Club (7mins.42:87secs) and Lawechi Madubueze of Abia State (7mins.46:95secs) placed second and third respectively in the event introduced at the Lagos Meet.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, the Director of Grassroots Sports Development at the National Sports Commission, Alhassan Yakmut, commended the sponsor of the National Under-18 Championships, Dr D.K.Olukoya for helping in the search for fresh talents to replace ageing ones.
“I want to say that what I have seen of this 3rd edition of the D.K.Olukoya National Under-18 Athletics Championships is very commendable. It is really exciting to see so many school children turn up here for the competition,” observed the NSC director who represented the sports minister at the closing ceremony.
He said that this developmental programme was part of the issues raised at the Presidential Sports Retreat that held in Abuja last year.
“This is the fourth junior competition I am attending in just one week. There is a renewed drive at the NSC to drive grassroots sports development in the country in the bid to return Nigeria to the summit of global sport,” said Yakmut.
Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama was equally happy with the quality of competition at the event.
“Take the case of the winner of this junior competition for example, Ese Brume of Delta State jumped 6.40m to win the event. The same girl also jumped 1.70m to win the high jump. In the sprint, the 10.51secs posted by the winner was also not a bad one. What these athletes need now is better programmes to help guide their career in track and field,” said the AFN technical director.
He confirmed that athletes selected for the maiden African Youth Athletics Championship scheduled for March 27-31 in Warri will go into closed camping in Port Harcourt beginning from Tuesday.