By Ben Efe
Athletics Federation of Nigeria president, Solomon Ogba has expressed delight over the win posted by Nigerian marathon runner, Janet Dung at last Mondayâ€™s Sahara half marathon run in Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Ogba declared that the effort made by the Plateau-born runner was an indication that Nigerian runners would in no distance future step into the big league of world marathon dominated by Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes.
â€œDung has demonstrated that Nigeria can win in world marathon. We have talents in this country and the AFN will continue to expose our athletes to international competitions so that they get more experience,â€ Ogba declared.
Dung won the race with a time ofÂ time of 1hr: 39:32 mins hand timing. She said that she was excited wining her first international race and was looking forward to doing well at other meets.
â€œI was feeling sick before I left Jos to come here. I was treating malaria and this cough and cold as disturbing me. But I did not want to disappoint my president (Chief Ogba) who made this my first trip abroad possible. So I had to manage to come.
â€œThis is just the beginning. I want to train harder and compete in bigger marathons,â€ Dung added.
The Plateau runner who has both the Obudu Mountain Race and the Glo Lagos Half Marathon titles under her belt beat British runner Daniele Smith and Nuria Rubio of Spain to pick the 21.5km race. However, It was not all sweet story for the Nigerian party as Nigeriaâ€™s lone entry in the 42km Sahara Marathon was denied his position by the Spanish organizers of the race.
Danjuma Gyang who led from start to finish line was adjudged to have finished in the 6th position. Spanish runner Juan Carlos Salvador Villa (2:42:42) who has won the last two editions of the Half Marathon was awarded the top prize.
Gyangâ€™s coach Nuhu protested in vain about the injustice meted to his ward. â€œThis is not fair play. My runner (Gyang) won. I know his time and the time the winner was awarded. There really must have been a mix up somewhere.â€