Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode saturday unveiled plans to invest in training of Nigerian athletes to compete with elite athletes all over the world for the grand prize of the annual Access Bank Lagos City Marathon as Kenyan born French athlete, Kiprotich Abraham breasted the tape in two hours, 13 minutes, four seconds to emerge winner, carting away the grand prize of $50,000.
Abrahamâ€™s time set a new Lagos Marathon record, three minutes better than the record set by his fellow compatriot, Abraham Kiptum in the second edition of the 42km annual tourney held last year.
Kenyan duo of Ronny Kipkoech Kiboss and Benjamin Bitok came second and third finishing in two hours, 13 minutes and 26 seconds and two hours, 13 minutes and 29 seconds, winning $40,000 and $30,000 USD respectively.
In the female category, it was a clean sweep by Ethiopia as the trio of Alemenesh Herpha Guta, Tigst Girma Getayechew and Ayelu Abebe Hordofa came first, second and third to win $50,000, $40,000 and $30,000 USD respectively.
Speaking at this yearâ€™s edition of the tournament held at Eko Atlantic City (EAC), Victoria Island, Governor Ambode said he was tired of handing over the star prizes of the marathon to athletes from East Africa, assuring that concerted efforts would be made to reverse the trend and prepare Nigerians to compete favourably for the prizes.
â€œMy promise to Nigeria is this; I’m tired of giving this award to the East Africans and so Lagos State is going to commit professional coaches and then we will go to Jos and then come back in two yearsâ€™ time to give them (East Africans) fight for their money,â€ the Governor said.
He commended all the athletes and organizers who contributed to the successful hosting of the third edition of the tournament, assuring that efforts would be made to make the fourth edition which will take place on February 9, 2019 bigger and better.
Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung announced additional cash reward for Nigerian athletes who finished top in the male and female categories as well as young athletes.
Iliya Pam was the first Nigerian to finish the 42km race in two hours, 40 minutes, 16 seconds to win N3million, while Sharubutu Philbus came second in two hours, 54 minutes and 16 seconds to win N2million and Kefas Williams also got on the medals table finishing third in a time of two hours, 58 minutes, 16 seconds to win the third prize of N1million.
The 42km race started at the National Stadium, Surulere by 6:30am and ended at the Eko Atlantic City in Victoria Island, while a 10km race also began from Osborne and terminated also at the Eko Atlantic City with over 100,000 athletes battling for the various prize monies.