BY ONOCHIE ANIBEZE
The Warri Grand Prix, yesterday, took off on a blistering note with an impressive crowd thronging the Warri Stadium to catch the excitement of track and field events, on a day that sports fused freely with entertainment to create an enchanting spectacle that captivated the world audience.
With thousands of fans in the stands and music stars doing their thing to keep the fans entertained, what came down yesterday was simply magnificient. It was a great show. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.
With former African queen of the tracks, Mary Onyali getting things off with a sweet rendition of the national anthem, the stage was set for colourful occasion, filled with pomp and pageantry.
With the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, leading other top dignitaries, comprising athletics greats to witness the collection of world teams competing for laurels, the Nigerian 4x100m relay team anchored by Ogho Egwerro, returned a time of 39.35 secs to claim the gold and to that, Governor Uduaghan, urged them to lower it to 38secs, in order for them to finish among the world’s top 20 and qualify for the looming summer Olympic Games in London.
Impressed with their smooth baton exchange, the Governor tasked the coaches of the relay team to work on their skills, in view of the stiff competition that they would face in future athletics meets.
For the way they ran, Uduaghan, in a spur of the moment, was so impressed that he gave the winners of the 4x100m and 4x4000m teams $10, 000 each but noted that he was urging Nigeria to run a lower race.
Responding, the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba, promised that they would do their best to better their time to qualify for the Olympics, noting that what they presented in Warri was Nigeria’s Team B.
He said that the Team A will be presented at the Africa Athletics Championships, holding a fortnight in Benin Republic.
In the day’s other events, Ajoke Odumosu won the 400m hurdles with a time of 56.07secs while Obinna Metu won a round of the men’s 100m in 10.38secs. Ogho Egwerro won the other in 10.27secs.
There were so many other relay events like the school relay winners, who were presented their medals by the Governor himself and their captain a shield from Dr. Awoture Eleyae.
All the big names in Nigerian track and field were present to add flair to the event, which was filled with fanfare. The likes of Moses Ugbesien, Sunday Uti and Innocent Egbunike, who were all part of the 4x400m relay team that won bronze at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, Porbeni and Brown Ebewele were all present at the event.