Usheoritse Itsekiri of Team Rivers and Margaret Bukola Bolutife of Team Ondo upset the odds to create a new order in the men and women’s 100m final at the ongoing 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja.
Both athletes had the odds stacked against them competing against more accomplished and garlanded opponents but nevertheless showed enough mettle to emerge victorious at the end of Day 2 of Athletics at the 19th NSF.
2017 National Junior Champion, Itsekiri, ran the race of his life in what was a fearless performance to clock a new Personal Best (PB) – his third in as many races at the event – of 10.27s to claim gold.
Itsekiri was joined on the podium by Team Delta’s Ogho-Oghene Egwero and reigning 2018 West Africa University Games (WAUG) Champion, Enoch Adegoke representing Rivers State who both clocked identical times of 10.32s.
Bukola Bolutife faced an even sterner test in a star-studded field, defending champion Peace Uko, Commonwealth medallists Rose-Mary Chukwuma and Joy Udo-Gabriel, who was the overwhelming favourite having picked up 10 medals this year including a bronze in the 100m and a gold in the 4x100m at the African Athletics Championships in Asaba.
But it was little-fancied Bukola Bolutife who held off the challenges of her more illustrious peers to claim gold for Ondo State with a Personal Best of 11.45s. Peace Uko (Akwa Ibom) finished second in a time of 11.52s while pre-race favourite Team Delta’s Udo-Gabriel’s 11.53s was only good enough for third place.
In the men’s 400m hurdles, David Olowookere competing at the National Sports Festival for the very first time set a Personal Best of 51.07s to claim gold ahead of Henry Okorie (Rivers) who finished second in 51.33s and Sikiru Adeyemi (Bayelsa) who was third in 51.96s.
Rita Ossai (Bayelsa) continued the trend of a new breed of champions when she won the women’s 400m Hurdles final in 59.31s. Daisy Akpofa (Edo) was 2nd in 59.69s, while Comfort Ekanem (Oyo) ended in third place with a time of 59.89s.
Ismaila Sadjo (Cross Rivers) found reserves of boundless energy to provide a hugely entertaining performance on his way to gold in the 10,000m final with a time of 31:37:00. Emmanuel Gyang (Rivers) was second while Shehu Mu’azu (Plateau State) placed 3rd.
In some of the other races decided on Wednesday, Assurance Omoria (Edo) won gold in the 100m women Deaf, with Chinwe Elekwach (Rivers) coming second while Onasanya Oyindamola (Lagos) finished in third place.
On the field, Team Delta’s Eucharia Ogbukwo ensured that the state is making a clean sweep of the throws, winning the women’s Shot Put event with a distance of 15.42m.
Earlier on Tuesday, Day 1 of athletics at the 2018 NSF, Rose Akusho (Plateau) took gold in the 5000m women’s final in 17:05:85. Deborah Pam Badung (Rivers) was second in 17:07:78 and Nwokeoji C. Chinonso (Abia) rounded off the podium finish in 18:10:21.
Three-time African Champion and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth champion Ese Brume (Delta) set a new Festival Record of 6.62m to win the women’s Long Jump.
Okoronkwo Precious Chisom (Lagos) took silver with 6.04m while Anigbata Grace Chinanyelum (Bayelsa) won bronze with a leap of 5.94m.
Princess Kara (Delta) took the gold in the Women’s Discus with a throw 44.50m. Onome Tessy Ogbeni (Oyo) won silver with a throw of 43.22m while Esther Osisike (Akwa Ibom) settled for bronze with a 42.00m throw.