–At the African Athletics Championships
By Adebayo Amosu:
The 19th edition of the African Athletics Championships [AAC] kicked off Saturday in Marrakech, Morocco, with Team Nigeria looking good to defend the title
they won two years ago in Porto Novo, Benin Republic.
The contingent comprising 30 athletes, 16 women and 14 men is led by the newly-crowned Commonwealth Games sprint double champion, Blessing Okagbare. Okagbare
set a new Commonwealth Games women’s 100m record of 10.85 secs in Glasgow and will compete for Team Nigeria in the 100m, 200m, and the 4x100m events at the
Okagbare was beaten to the 100m title two years ago by Gabonese Ruddy Zang Milama but this time around she will have to contend with Cote d’Ivoire’s
Murielle Ahouré who will be keen to outshine the Delta State born athlete in the race of who emerges Africa’s fastest runner in Africa.
With a new found form, Okagbare the African record holder at 10.79 seconds, needs to prove that her Glasgow exploit was not a fluke by beating Ahoure who
denied her a chance to win a medal in the women 100m and a better placing in the 200m at last year’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
Team Nigeria won 2012 edition in Porto Novo with a total of ten gold, six silver and five bronze medals, beating Kenya to second spot with nine gold, nine
silver and nine bronze medals. South Africa, the 2008 champions came third with six gold, 10 silver and eight bronze medals.
The country set a total of three championships record and one African record at the competition, with Vivian Chukwuemeka topping her 17.60m championships
record set in Tunis in 2002, the first time she was crowned African champions in the event with an African-record setting 18.86m.
Blessing Okagbare also erased Chioma Ajunwa’s 6.78m record with a new 6.96m record while the women’s 4x400m relay team erased the 3:29.26 record set by the
quartet of Shade Abugan, Margaret Etim, Bukola Abogunloko and Ajoke Odumosu four years ago in Nairobi.