Ethiopia’s Leul Gebresilase, winner of the men’s race at the fifth edition of the Okpekpe International 10km Road Race held three weeks ago in Okpekpe near Auchi in Edo State has proved he is one of the athletes to watch out for this season.
The 24-year-old who came second behind Kenya’s Korio Alex Olotptip at the third edition of the Okpekpe race in 2015 before breaking the Kenyan dominance over a fortnight ago ran a personal season best time of 28:43 to win the IAAF Gold Label Ottawa 10K in Ottawa, Canada at the weekend.
â€œThis is a confirmation of the fact that we brought truly world-class athletes to compete at the Okpekpe race. We brought gold-level running athletes to compete in a bronze label event which shows our ambition to move up the ranking into gold in no time,â€ said Dare Esan, spokesman for the Okpekpe race.
Meanwhile, Esan has hailed the Nigerian media as well as the Nigeria Police Force for their roles in making the fifth edition of the race a huge success.
”The publicity which the fifth edition of the Okpekpe race enjoyed is second to none and this is thanks to the Nigeria media. Without the media, the race would have lost its substance as not many people would have had the opportunity to follow the events locally and far beyond,â€ said Esan who added that through the media the race was presented with electrifying beauty which has made it attractive to sponsors who have also helped in ensuring the IAAF Bronze Label race is sustainedâ€.
Esan is particular about the contribution of SuperSport Nigeria, Africa Independent Television (AIT) and Channels Television who are official media partners of the race.
â€œWe want to say a special thank you to SuperSport who have been worthy partners since the start of the race. We thank them for also helping out with the kids in Etsako East local government with their â€˜Let’s Playâ€™ programme, a corporate social responsibility initiative
they developed in response to a national need.
â€œAbout 3,000 kids benefited from this initiative a day before the main Okpekpe race. For these children, a seed has been sown and they will draw inspiration from their experiences for years to come,â€ said Esan.
â€œWe cannot also forget the role played by Channels, especially its Chief Executive Officer, John Momoh who instituted prize money for athletes who come from North Ibie, a large homogenous group of people found in Okpekpe Clan and the three Ibie Clans of Imiegba, Imiakebu and Itsukwi of Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo Stateâ€.
Esan also praised the Federal Road Safety Corps and Nigeria Police Force for providing security and adding colour to the whole event.
â€œThe Nigeria Police Force availed us the use of their helicopters which was used for television recordings as well as transport of important dignitaries from Okpekpe to Benin after the race.â€