BY BEN EFE, Mauritius
Nigerian juniors yesterday in Bambous, Mauritius topped the medals table of the African Junior Championships.
Divine Oduduru and Nkiru Uwakwe added two gold medals on the final day of the event to cement Nigeria’s position at the top with nine gold medals. South Africa that threatened to spoil the fun for Nigerian officials came second with seven gold medals; Ethiopia also had seven gold medals.
“Last year in Port Novo, Benin Republic, we won the African senior championships. Then in Warri earlier in the year, we won the African youth championships and now,
we have won again. Indeed we have completed a hat-trick,” Athletics Federation of Nigeria technical director, Navy Commodore Omatseye Nesiama declared.
What thrilled the Nigerian delegation was the overall performances of the athletes some of who were in the team to the AYAC and the World Youth Championships in Ukraine. Of particular note were Omezie Akerele and Oduduru who ran his personal best in the men 200m.
Oduduru clocked 21.19 seconds to clinch the gold. He dusted off his opponents at the curve, even as Mauritian, Permal Jonathan was on his trail, but Oduduru held on to his lead to the finish. Jonathan tagged in at 21. 26, while South Africa’s James Mokofend was third with 21.62.
In the girls race, Uwakwe was also effective with her race plan. She beat off opposition from Yuma Tamangu to finish at 24.21 seconds. The Ethiopian took the silver with a time of 24.27 and Loungo Matihaku was third with 24.62.
“The era of using over age athletes is over. We can only hope that we will get the support of public and private sectors to take these athletes to the next level,” Nesiama added.