Former national 800m/1500m runner and foremost athletics coach, Anthony Osheku has predicted new course records at the seventh edition of the IAAF silver label Okpekpe international 10km Road Race which holds next month in Okpekpe, Edo State.
Osheku,one of Nigeria’s top road race experts believes the 2019 IAAF road race regulations and the decision of the organisers of the Okpekpe race to seek a gold label status for the event next year will make this year’s race the best in terms of the quality of its elite field of athletes.
“The 2019 IAAF regulations have made it compulsory for all label races to have a minimum of six men and six women from the pool of athletes whose status corresponds to the Label being applied for. This will ensure that a Gold Label race, for example, has at least 12 of the world’s 300 best specialists at that particular distance,” began Osheku.
“What this means is that the seventh edition of the Okpekpe 10km road race will have at least 12 gold level running athletes in attendance,that is athletes who run 27,28 minutes consistently for men and 30,31 and 32 minutes for women.
“The last time we had athletes who ran under 29 minutes for men and 33 minutes for women was five years ago,precisely 2014 when the Ethiopian duo of Teshome Mekonnen and Wude Ayalew ran 28:35 and 32:41 respectively to set the current course records for men and women,” said Osheku who hails from Fugar, a town near Okpekpe.
Osheku is also thrilled that the organisers of the race are aiming higher and wants to score another first in the
organisation of road races in Nigeria.
“I must commend organisers of the race for putting Okpekpe town,Edo state and Nigeria on the map of the world for all the good reasons. The race is the first to be granted a label by the IAAF in West Africa and have continued to set the pace for others to follow.
“What organisers of the race have done is significant and worthy of praise. Okpekpe race has been classified among the leading road races which,with its label status denotes high standards in event organisation, full application of the IAAF competition rules, complete support from authorities for the event, a commitment to the advancement of the sport and concrete steps in the global fight against doping.”
This year’s race will hold on May 25 in Okpekpe,Etsako East local government area of Edo state.