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Abbas Mohammed set for Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, AFN’s Cross-Country race

By Gowon Akpodonor
25 January 2023   |   3:30 am
Former national record holder in full marathon, Abbas Mohammed, will lead a team of long distance runners to Lagos to battle with international elite athletes in this year’s gold-label Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.

Olopade, Alli speak on event expo
Former national record holder in full marathon, Abbas Mohammed, will lead a team of long distance runners to Lagos to battle with international elite athletes in this year’s gold-label Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.

From mid 1980s till the late 1990s, there was, perhaps, no more beloved and famous marathoner in Nigeria and the entire West Africa sub-region than Mohammed. He was almost the sole reason many Nigerians followed long distance races then.

And for almost three decades, Mohammed’s national record of 2:16:06 seconds, which he set on September 11, 1990 at a full marathon race in Lagos, remains unbroken.

Apart from dominating the national scene, Mohammed was able to stamp his authority at the international level, competing with world’s best marathoners at the Seoul ’88 Olympic Games, Rome ’95 World Military Games in Italy, as well as the 1997 Summer Universiade Games held in Italy’s famous city of Sicily.

Before then, Mohammed had participated in the Great London Marathon in 1981 alongside another Nigerian runner, Great Ishaku, and the Los Angeles ’86 Marathon, where he competed alongside Umaru Bukaboni.

Now, the marathon legend, who is currently Director of Sports, Nigerian Army in Borno State, has his eyes on two events, the maiden AFN National 10km Cross Country Championship in Jalingo, Taraba State, and the gold-label Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. He wants to showcase his athletes to the entire world.

While the AFN 1st National 10km Cross Country Championship, being organised in fulfillment of the road map of the Tonobok Okowa-led board to develop athletics across the six-geo-political zones of Nigeria, holds on Saturday, January 28, in Jalingo, the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon is scheduled for February 4, 2023 in Lagos.

Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, Mohammed said: “I am happy to see that the marathon race culture is spreading rapidly across Nigeria. Two years ago, we had the Kaduna City Marathon and now, the AFN is organising the First National 10km Cross Country Championship in Jalingo. I will be there to give my support.

“In my days, I made that national record in 1990 because of the Milo Marathon that held every week. The corporate bodies should key into this 10km Cross Country in Jalingo. From the 10km road race, it can be half marathon next year.

“Next week, I will be leading my athletes to Lagos for the gold-label Access Bank Lagos City Marathon. I have a team of long distance runners, who can compete against the best in the world, and the Lagos City marathon is the starting point this year,” Mohammed said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of Nilayo Sports Management, Bukola Olopade, stated, yesterday, at the event expo that they have officially invited 47 men and 29 women world-class athletes that will lead the bunch of first class athletes in the race.

Also speaking yesterday, General Manager of the Race, former long jumper, Yusuf Alli, disclosed: “The elite entries would have been more, if the organisers had not regulated it to a barest size over a week ago for effective and efficient management of the race.”

Alli, who is chairman, Edo Sports Commission, added: “The Lagos City Marathon’s quest to attain the Platinum Label status, which is uppermost in the desires of the organisers, Nilayo Sports Management Ltd, will be boosted if two male elite athletes can finish the race under two hours 10 minutes and three women athletes finish under two hours 12 minutes.”

As part of preparation for the first-ever gold-label race in Nigeria, the expo for the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon began yesterday morning at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.