Nicholas Imhoadeferhame (2nd right) won the men's 100m Wednesday night
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Rivers State Wednesday night won the men’s 100m title of the 18th National Sports Festival in a dramatic fashion, leaving favourite, Delta, completely out of podium placement.
Dark horse, Nicholas Imhoadeferhame, was the surprise beneficiary of the gold medal in 10.51secs with defending champion, Chukwuma Onyeaku (10.65secs) of Rivers State settling for the silver. Edo State athlete, Victor Ikhasobor (10.70) got the consolatory bronze.
Delta sprinter, Elvis Ukhale, who was tipped to give the Rivers’ duo a big challenge for the top position, like Jamaican Usain Bolt at the 2011 World Championship in Daegu, got disqualified in the first semi final for a false start. That slip up, effectively handed out the gold to the Rivers sprinters. It was Fugar, Edo State-born Imhoadeferhame who profited to become the Games fastest man for the next two years.
In the women version, Ondo State sprinter, Peace Uko who has been consistent all through the year, dipped on the finish line to deny Delta athlete, Margaret Benson the gold medal. Uko was clocked 11.57 secs while Benson was 11.61. The bronze medal went to Cross River State school sport revelation, Miriam Edet-Bassey (11.78).
Lagos long distance runner, Aminat Olowora who had on Tuesday won the women’s 5,000m, overwhelmed the entire field to also pick the 10,000m gold Wednesday night.
She told THISDAY moment after leading the field dominated by Plateau and Bauchi states athletes to the finish line of the 25-lap race that she is not done yet.
“Wait for me till Friday when I am also going to add the 1,500m gold to my collection. I want to prove to all the long distance races are not the birthright of any region or tribe. It is just a matter of how prepared and focused the individual athlete is,” said Olowora, who did a lap of honour to celebrate her second gold medal to the admiration of all present at the stadium.
Also Wednesday, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) won the men’s 400m hurdles event with Henry Okorie (53.16) breasting the tape ahead of others. Fred Anyadike (54.30) of Imo won the silver while Bello Thomas of FCT picked the bronze in 54.13.
Delta hurdler, Mujidat Adekoya (57.93) won the women’s version of the event while Folake Balogun (59.79) of Bayelsa and Ann Nwogu of Rivers won the silver and bronze respectively.
Another Rivers athlete, Rukevwe Esiekpe won the gold of the women’s high jump. She defeated both Ese Brume and Tina Samson of Delta on count-back. They all could not soar above the 1.65m hurdle.