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Access Bank Lagos City marathon has helped many Nigerian athletes, says Olopade

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Board member, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba (left), Music star, D’banj; Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh and Head of Marketing, Seven-Up Bottling Company Ltd. (SBC), Norden Thurston at the recent Lagos City Marathon press conference in Lagos.

Organisers of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon have declared that the event has benefited many Nigerian athletes than other road races in the country.

The fourth edition of the race took place last weekend with an Ethiopian emerging winner of the men’s 42km race for the first time since 2016. The Kenyans had dominated the men’s event in past editions.

Perhaps, the major beneficiary of the day was Nigeria’s Deborah Pam, who made history by finishing sixth fastest woman overall, returning a time of 2:52.59 to claim her second consecutive title.

Pam, who is popularly called queen of long-distance races in Nigeria, achieved a historic feat by breaking into the overall top female finishers.

Speaking with The Guardian, consultant of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, Bukola Olopade said Nigerians athletes had benefited in cash and kind from the race, adding that more benefits would come their way in subsequent editions.

Olopade, however, carpeted some athletes who grumbled over the results announced by the organisers saying: “It is unfortunate that some Nigerian athletes don’t appreciate the good work we are doing. Before now, Nigerian marathoners wait endlessly for events to showcase their talent. The Access Bank Lagos City Marathon did not just give them the platform to run, but also offer them the chance to make big money for themselves. An athlete like Deborah Pam, for instance, has won $5,000 in addition to the N3 million she won.

“Any Nigerian athlete who is complaining about the result should come forward because we have taken our time to look at the video of the race from the start to finish point. If the cameras stationed at km 10 and km 21 do not capture an athlete, then such athlete cheated.

They should stop complaining and focus on how to better their living standard by making good use of the opportunity provided by Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.”

Olopade hinted that a South African female runner, who participated in the 42km race, wrote on return to her country that she wanted more South Africans to attend the 2020 edition. “As we speak, more than 45 South Africans have signed on with her. The IAAF and people from different parts of the world are commending us for the good work we did. My advice to our athletes is to stop looking for excuses whenever they fail to meet their target,” Olopade stated.


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