- Top stars arrive Nigeria for IAAF Bronze Label road race
Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, has registered for Saturday’s IAAF bronze label fourth Okpekpe 10km International Road Race.
The minister has submitted his registration form to the organisers of the race and will join Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole to race for fun.
“We are delighted to have the number one sports man in Nigeria register for the race. This shows a recognition by government of the image laundering power of sports and that the Okpekpe race, being the only IAAF bronze label race in Africa in 2016 and one of only two IAAF label races in Africa this year has proved that Nigerians are capable of organising world class events,” said Spokesman for the race, Dare Esan.
Meanwhile as many as 11gold level elite runners are among the 20 international elite athletes who jetted into Nigeria Wednesday for Saturday’s fourth Okpekpe race in Edo state.
Also in town for the race is the International Elite Athletes Manager of the race, Walter Abmayr.
Esan revealed that five out of the gold level elite runners are women while six are men.
‘Our international elite athletes manager has confirmed 20 world class runners made up of nine women and 11 men for Saturday’s race.
Out of the 20, 11 are gold level elite runners, eight are silver while only one bronze level elite runner has been confirmed for the race thereby raising the standard of the race from a bronze label one to gold in terms of the quality of the international elite field,” said Esan who added that the athletes are spread across six African countries namely Kenya, Ethiopia, Morocco, Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa.
”We are going to have a very explosive race in Okpekpe this year and I won’t be surprised if a new course record is set. The men and women course records are held by Ethiopian duo of Teshome Mekonnen and Wude Ayalew who ran 28:35 and 32:41 respectively at the second edition of the race,” said Esan who revealed that some athletes from the initial entry list dropped out due to injuries.
“Mr Abmayr has promptly replaced the injured athletes with those who are of higher standard such that the list of gold level elite runners have increased from the initial list of seven to 11. In the initial list we have four women and three men confirmed who are of the highest level in terms of performance but now we have 11,” he said.
“What this means is that the race will be more competitive than we initially thought and will certainly bring the focus of the world, especially the athletics family to Okpekpe.
“It is also connotes that we are actually organising a gold label race in a bronze label environment because part of the requirements for a bronze label race is that the international elite field of athletes must be a minimum of five men and five women participating in the competition who are bronze level elite runners and a minimum of four different nationalities must be represented.
“For a gold or silver label race, the requirements are the same except that there must be a minimum of five different nationalities and they must be gold or silver level elite runners. It will be safe to safe this is more like a gold label race,” added Esan who explained that it will boost the chances of the Okpekpe race getting a silver label status next year.
Meanwhile a total of $92,000 in prize money will be paid to the top eight finishers in the men and women’s race with the winner in each gender category going home with $15,000 while $10,000 and $7,000 respectively will go to the second and third placed finishers.
”The prizes for 4th-8th placed finishers in each gender category are $5,000, $3,000, $2,500, $2,000, and $1,500 respectively,” said Esan who also revealed the introduction of performance bonuses to this year’s race.
“Athletes achieving a world leading time will be eligible for a special bonus which will be revealed in due course,” further said Esan who announced the close of entries for and local athletes. Athletes from the domestic scene had until yesterday, May 4 to submit their completed registration forms.