Patience Okon-George and Emmanuel Bamidele were the stellar performers at the 2018 Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Commonwealth Games Trials, which was held inside the mainbowl of the Abuja National Stadium from 14-16 February, 2018.
Okon-George won the women's 400m final in a season's best time of 51.40 secs ahead of Yinka Ajayi in second 52.49 secs, while Praise Idamadudu was third in 52.92 secs.
Another highlight of the three-day trials was the breathtaking performance by Emmanuel Bamidele, who continued his winning streak in the men’s 400m event from the 1st Commonwealth Games Trials in Abuja last year.
After racing to a personal best of 45.85 secs in the semis, Bamidele took the men's 400m title in a personal best of 45.28 secs. Orukpe Erayokan finished second in 46.40 secs while Isah Salihu finished third in 46.56 secs.
Emmanuel Arowolo, who is the reigning men’s 200m champion, raced to a lifetime best of 20.96 secs to win the men’s 200m race.
Uruemu Idjesa who finished 3rd in the 100m final, went one better this time around, finishing second in the half-lap event in 21.22 secs, while Making of Champions’ (MoC) Jerry Jakpa (21.26) took the third place.
Isoken Igbinosun won the sprint double title in the women’s 100m and 200m event, winning the latter in a time of 23.33 secs.
The men’s 110m Hurdles final was won by Oyeniyi Abejoye – albeit by a small margin - ahead of Bashiru Abdullahi, who came second, just one-hundredth of a second behind in a time of 14.08 secs, with Martins Ogieriahki finishing third.
As expected, Grace Ayemoba was the winner in the women’s 100m Hurdles final. Hamid Sambo (1:53.97) and Yinka Bamtefa (2:10.05 ) were the victors in the men and women 800m finals.
National records for Olude and Obisesan
Fadekemi Olude broke the national record in the women’s 20km Walk in 1:42:52, erasing the previous time of 1:42:56 set by Queen Henshaw in 2015.
Samuel Kure won the men’s Javelin throw with 68.93m ahead of Kenechukwu Ezeofor who was some centimetres behind after registering a mark of 68.63m.
Olushola Anota won the men’s Long Jump with a leap of 7.67m, while Queen Obisesan took the women's Hammer throw in yet another national record of 66.86m.
Meanwhile, Sunday Adeleye, the technical director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN has said that even though the athletes doing well abroad may not be available for the Commonwealth Games, they still have confidence in the home-groomed talents to deliver.
“It is actually just painful that most of the athletes doing well abroad cannot meet the Commonwealth Games but they should be in for the African Championships. We already have our plans, and this will not affect us,” said Adeleye.
“We are Nigerians, we are always ready to do great things, we are going to make a statement out there, but we want to be reserved. We are working towards surpassing the record we had at the last Commonwealth Games, but we will take it one step at a time.”
The Commonwealth Games Trials, which ended on Friday, is part of the criteria to be used by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) to select Team Nigeria for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia from 4-15 April.
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