By Adekunle Aliyu
…as event witnesses unprecedented participation
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said that the state government’s sustained support for Okpekpe Road Race is integral to its commitment to drive sports development and boost tourism receipts in the state.
The governor, who was among the VIP runners in Okpekpe, was joined by his wife, Mrs. Betsy, former Governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Minister of Youths and Sports, Bar. Solomon Dalung. The Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, competed as an elite runner.
The event recorded unprecedented participation despite the heavy downpour, as Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes won the star prices.
The governor said, “The state’s interest in sustaining the road race is part of the commitment to drive sports development and boost tourism.”
He noted that government would continue to provide the needed support to ensure that the organisers maintain the set standards and continue to improve the race, adding, “We will continue to maintain infrastructure, security and other structures to ensure the success of the event in the future. This will also assist the organisers to improve the status of the event.”
Obaseki stressed, “The state will continue to build on infrastructure to improve the life of the people in rural areas. We will leverage on the opportunity in hosting the race to promote the local culture of the people. The state’s tourism sector will benefit from this event, which will also open rural areas to tourists from across the globe.”
Minister of Youths and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung, urged sports enthusiasts and stakeholders to support government’s drive to promote sports development, noting, “Through the support of stakeholders, the country can be repositioned for long distance races. This can only be achieved through the support of private investors as government cannot achieve such feat alone.”
Dalung said the outcome of the 6th edition of Okpekpe Road Race was tremendous, noting, “More sponsorship is needed to take the race to the next level. If we continue in this direction, future editions and more events will translate to more job opportunities for youths.”
The former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, expressed delight at the successful hosting of the 2018 edition of the race, noting, “The race has brought development to the people of Okpekpe town. The event has also improved the economic well-being of the people.”
Commending the organisers of the event, Oshiomhole said, “The improvement recorded in hosting the event would assist the state government open the rural area for more development.”
Representative of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Norrie Williamson, described the organisation of the race, which is the only Silver Label Road Race in sub-Saharan Africa, as fantastic for the community. “The great atmosphere, organisation and excellent terrain all add to the fantastic hosting of the event,” he noted.
Williamson further said that despite the weather, the enthusiasm displayed by participants goes to show that the event is a huge success.
The traditional ruler of Okpekpe community, His Royal Highness, Apa Peter Osigbemeh, expressed appreciation to the state government and organisers for putting the community on the global map, noting “The race has brought unparalleled development to the people of the community.”
For the male elite category, Kibet Alex of Kenyan came first with a time of 29.46. Another Kenyan, Simon Cheprot with 30.29, came second while the third position went to another Kenyan, Ronoh Timothy, at 30.39.
In the female category, Ethiopian Yami Dera, won the star price with a time of 33.01. Kenyan Tuei Sandra came second running 33.33 while another Kenyan, Kipyokei Diara, ran a time of 34.24 to clinch the third position.
In the local male category, Emmanuel Gyang took the first position, while Gideon Goyet took the second position and Ismail Sodie came third. In the female category, Debora Pam won the star price, Rose Aknstro came second and Hudung Giang came third.