Dinkesa, Aziz, other top stars breeze in for Okpekpe race today
All the foreign stars registered for the third Okpekpe Road Race, including Ethiopia’s Abebe Dinkesa, Hunegaw Yismaw and Genet Yalew, as well as Morocco’s Lahbabi Aziz are expected to arrive in Nigeria today for Saturday’s race, which holds at the Edo Kingdom.
According to Nigeria’s former track and field star, Yusuf Ali, who is a member of the main organising committee, all the athletes except Foimi Justilin of Cameroun will arrive Lagos as early as 5.30 a.m. He said Foimi was expected in Lagos late Tuesday evening from Douala, Cameroun, while Morocco’s Aziz is expected to jet in at 5.30 a.m. today.
Also expected in Lagos today are three former winners of the annual Obudu International Mountain Race, Dinkesa, Yismaw and Yalew, who will jet in aboard Ethiopia Airline flight number ET 901 at 12.30 pm.
Ali assured that Saturday’s race will be very different from the two earlier editions because of the international recognition it has received, adding, “As you all know the Okpekpe 10km road race is now one of the few races the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has designated as one of the leading road races around the world.
In fact, we have only three of such in the African continent,” Ali, a two-time IAAF World Championship long jump finalist, said.
“The Okpekpe race is now an IAAF bronze label race and what this means is that all rules regulating the organisation of the race as laid down by the IAAF must be strictly enforced.
“For example, the number of nations that must participate in a bronze label race must be at least four and we have satisfied this requirement by having athletes from Cameroun, Morocco, Kenya and Ethiopia, who have ran faster than the standard set by the IAAF for the year.
“We are also going to ensure the specified number of doping tests is carried out after the race, while in the area of prize money, the gender equality rule is also followed such that what the male winner earns is also what the opposite sex will get,” explained Ali.
The former national and African long jump champion also revealed that the new bronze label status to the race means world and area records set in Okpekpe will be recognised by the IAAF.’ Ali also revealed that the race course, which starts from Apama Road and ends in Okpekpe, would be closed to vehicular traffic.
The Okpekpe 10km road race is organised by Pamodzi Sports Marketing, a leader in sports marketing, sponsorship, hospitality and rights acquisition business in Nigeria in conjunction with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and the Edo State government.