Nigeria Denied Sprint Gold as Itsekiri, Olajide Settle for Silver, Bronze 

Nigeria Denied Sprint Gold as Itsekiri, Olajide Settle for Silver, Bronze 

*Enekwechi, Usoro, women’s 4x00m grab three gold medals for Nigeria

Duro Ikhazuagbe 

Team Nigeria missed out of the gold medals in both the male and female sprint finals yesterday at the ongoing 13th African Games in Accra, Ghana.

Cameroonian Emmanuel Eseme clinched the men’s 100m gold in 10.14 secs, leaving Nigerian Usheoritse Itsekiri who clocked 10.23 to settle for the silver. Namibian sprinter Hainuca Gilbert took the bronze with  10.29. 

Nigeria’s other finalist in the sprint, Consider Ekanem finished fourth with 10.42 in his first African Games debut.

In the women’s version of the 100m, Gina Bass of The Gambia lived up to her favorite tag as she flew past Nigeria’s Olayinka Olajide to claim the gold medal with 11.36secs.

Liberia’s Alyse Maia McCoy took the silver with 11.49secs while Olajide could only settle for the consolation bronze with 11.55secs in a photo finish with Claudine Njarasoa of Madagascar. Justina Tiana Eyakpobeyan was fifth with a time of 11.60secs.

However, it was not all gloom for Team Nigeria from the track & field as Shot Putter Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, Triple jumper Ruth Usoro  and the country’s 4x400m women’s relay team harvested three  gold medals yesterday.

The 31-year-old Enekwechi  was the pre-Games overwhelming favourite to win and he fulfilled expectations in a historic manner, becoming the first Nigerian man to successfully defend a Shot Put title at the African Games.

Enekwechi threw 21.06m to win the gold. He however was unable to beat the 21.43m games record he set in 2019 in Rabat Morocco. 

US-based Usoro grabs her first African Games gold in the triple jump and is aiming for a double when stepping out next to battle Ese Brume for the long jump gold.

Usoro hopped, stepped and jumped to her first African Games gold with 13.80m . She becomes the  third Nigerian lady after Rosa Collins (1995) and Grace Anigbata (2019) to win a triple jump gold at the Games.

In the women’s 4x400m relay, Omolara Omotosho dug deep into her deserve to finish strongly ahead of Botswana ladies to pick the precious gold for Team Nigeria. Omolara who collected the fourth leg baton with the Botswana anchor leading by almost 30metres, opened up at the homestretch and sped pass the Botswanan and charged towards the finish line to the admiration of spectators in the stand inside the University of Ghana Stadium. She coasted to the gold medal in 3.13.25secs.

The Nigerians must now focus on the 4x100m relays where they can gather speed and make up for missing the top prize.

Meanwhile in the 400m semi-final Chidi Okezie and Esther Elo Joseph offered hope that Nigeria can win gold in the flat with their heartwarming performances. Okezie ran 45. 63seconds the third fastest time. 

The fastest time belong to Muzala Samukonga of Zambia had 45. 51 in the third heat which also saw Dubem Nwachukwu running 45.89. Senegal’s Tidiani Diouf ran 45. 59 in the second heat.

Elo Joseph ran 51.74 seconds, she has Kenya’s Mary Morra to contend with in the final, she won her semi-final heat with 51.55 seconds.

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