—Idiata, Ogoegbunam, Women’s 4x400m Relay Team Grab Final Day Gold
By Sab Osuji In Brazzaville:
Photo By Ganiyu Yusuf:
Team Nigeria has emerged the best track and field country after the conclusion of athletics events of the 11th All Africa Games at the New Kintele Stadium in Brazzaville, Congo on Thursday.
Nigeria won a total 10 gold medals to emerge tops for the ninth consecutive edition and 10th overall.
Amaka Ogoegbunam won the first gold of the day for Nigeria in the women’s 400m hurdles when she powered home first to deny her compatriot and defending champion Ajoke Odumosu the chance to make history as the first woman in African Games history to successfully defend a 400m hurdles title.
Ogoegbunam ran 55.86 seconds to win her first ever Games gold while Odumosu settled for the silver in 57.63 seconds.
The two Nigerians benefitted immensely from the absence of South Africa’s Wenda Nel, seventh in the finals of the event at the last IAAF World Championships and the only African who has broken 55 seconds (54.37) this year.
Then followed high jumper turned long jumper, Samson Idiata, who returned Nigeria to the summit of the long jump event 24 years after George Ogbeide emerged the fourth Nigerian to be crowned African Games champion.
Idiata, whose elder brother Anthony won the high jump title in 1999 at the seventh edition of the Games in Johannesburg, South Africa, leapt a distance of 7.83m, the very first of his three legal jumps during the competition, to win the gold ahead of Senegal’s Ndiss Kaba Badji, whose 7.74m fourth round effort was only good for the silver medal, and his compatriot Mamadou Gaye who jumped 7.69m to win the bronze medal.
Idiata’s 7.83m effort is the second poorest winning jump in the history of the event at the Games after another Nigerian, Edward Akika, jumped 7.49m to win the inaugural gold at the inaugural edition of the Games.
The mark is also the first winning mark below 8m since another Nigerian, Charlton Ehizuelen, leapt 7.92m to win the gold in 1978.
The Nigeria women’s 4x400m relay team of Rita Ossai, Funke Oladoye, Tosin Adeloye and Patience Okon George won the third gold medal (10th overall) of the day for Nigeria.
Led by Beijing IAAF Worlds 400m semi-finalist, Okon George, the team ran 3:27.12, the second fastest winning time in the history of the Games to make it eight consecutive wins for Nigeria in the event since 1987 in Nairobi, Kenya when Mary Onyali and company ran 3:27.08 (fastest winning time ever) to win Nigeria’s first 1600 relay gold at the Games.
Botswana came second in 3:32.84 while Kenya came third in 3:35.91.
It was however a sad tale for Nigeria in the men’s version as the quartet of Nathaniel Sa Oghenewegba, Robert Simmonson, Henry Okorie and 400m open finalist Orukpe Erayokan who ran 44.95 seconds in the heat failed to make it to the podium.
The Nigerians ran 3:03.52 to place fourth behind Kenya, who ran a new 3:00.34 seconds Games record to win the gold ahead of Botswana, who ran a new 3:00.95 seconds national record to win the silver while Algeria ran 3:03.07 to settle for the bronze medal
Meanwhile Claie Uke’s bid to become the first Nigerian and second African after Egypt’s Hanane Khaled (1991) to win a Discus/Shot Put double at the Games was thwarted by Cameroun’s Auriole Dongmo whose first round put of 17.21m was enough to fetch her the gold ahead of the USA-based Nigerian.
Uke’s first round effort of 16.64m guaranteed her the silver medal while South Africa’s Sonia Smuts won the bronze with her second round put of 15.92m.