*Youths are the hope of the nearest future
*ABUAD’s Itsekiri Usheoritse wins 100m for youths
By Oluwole Francis
African 200metres record holder and five time Olympian, Chief Mary Onyali in assessment of the just concluded U-20 national trial said, “with the quality of kids in this national Under-20 trials, I can reveal to you that the gradual return to greatness in our athletics looks assured. I must commend the organisers. To show that God’s hands is in this regeneration effort, there was rain on both days towards the end of the day to bless these efforts. It sounds superstitious but that is the underlying tone.”
The event which took place on Friday and Saturday inside the National stadium in Abuja witnessed 48 personal best marks by participants who also posted various heart warming results towards representing the nation in two youth tournaments later in the year.
At the two-day AFN/Making of Champions youth championships in Abuja, it was a massive revelation of new generation coaches who have brought forth hope of a new beginning for the nation’s athletics.
For the handful of spectators who cannot fill a primary school classroom, it was massive moments to cheer, scream, jump and celebrate spectacular jumps, finishes and throws. The biggest was the 400meters men. It was a classic performance with a crowd participation from beginning to the end of the great and keenly contested race.
In the well-orchestrated build-up from the heats, fans were waiting for a repeat epic final between Prosper Ogbonna and Bamidele Emmanuel. The race did not fail the high expectations. Both men returned personal bests in the race.
Prosper Ogbonna won in 46.56s, Bamidele Emmanuel came so close in the second place in 46.85s and Adewale Sikiru came third in 47.49s. with the gun to set them off the block, all the finalists were slow in getting out of the bloack.
Bamidele tried to match Ogbonna’s fast and cheetah pace in the men’s 400m final, but couldn’t as he had to settle for second place. Obonna had bursted out of the last curse to face the homestretch when he met, overtook the leader of the pack to win in 46.56s
In the Youth boys 400m final, it was a drama of skills, strength and technique with Nsikak Okon who won in 48.71s. Olaoluwa Obashola came second in 50.04s and Donatus Oghenekeno came third in 50.60s.
In the men’s 400metres final, Prior Ochonogor won in 52.73s, David Olowookere got the second place in 53.27s while Muhammed Ismail came third in 54.11s.
Whereas, in the men’s 110metres Hurdles: Precious Ojeikere won in 14.04s, Wisdom Musa came second in 14.49s and David Olowookere came third in 14.77s.
Afe Babalola of Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD)’s undergraduate, Itsekiri Usheoritse strolled into winning the Junior boys 100metres final. He won in 10.60s, Ekevwo came second in 10.71s and Jerry Jakpa got the third position in 10.86s
In the women’s 200m, it was a field of four athletes. Alphonsus clocked 23.83s to pick the win making Udo Gabriel come behind her.
Whereas, in the women’s 400m, it was a dog race which Peace Nwalehia won in 54.59s, Glory Nyenke came second in 55.88s and Rita Odigbo got third in 55.90s
Whereas, in the women’s 400metres Hurdles: Abasiono Akpan won in 61.02s, Joy Abu came second in 61.15s and Fegor Clifford got the third position in 61.89s
Isaac Odugbesan won the men’s Shot Put with a mark of 17.17metres.
In the shortest sprint, Rosemary Chukwuma of Kids & Play won the 100metres Youth Girls final, her teammate Hope Joshua was second and the third place went to Chiamaka Egbochinam.
In the Youth boys 200metres final, there was a repeat of the rivalry in the 100metres. Prosper Ogbonna clocks 21.21s, forcing Usheoritse who was second in 21.64s leaving Ese Oguma with the consolatory third position in 22.21s.
But in the youth boys 200metres, Omubo Gershon won in 21.93s, Ovie Amano second in 22.44s and Nsikak Okon Okon got third in 22.54s
In his comments, Nigeria’s junior long jump fourth placed winner but 200m winner in 1979, Olajide Fashikun told www.gongnews.net this was like a revisit of our growing days. You will agree with me the coaches had worked hard enough to take the credit of the new kids on the block. See the Delta folk in triple and long jump. With a little more superior coaching guidance, I can tell you, with his age, we have a new Ajayi Agbebaku.”