Ekevwo, Enekwechi strike gold, Amata misses podium
• Lou retains women’s 100m, as Amusan qualifies 100m hurdles final
Raymond Ekevwo and shot putter, Chuwuebuka Enekwechi put smiles on the faces of Nigerians yesterday when they struck gold in the 100m and Shot Put respectively at the on-going 12th African Games in Morocco.
On the second day of track and field competition in Rabat, Ekevwo scorched to his first ever sub-10 seconds run in the blue ribband, clocking 9.96 seconds to become the fifth Nigerian to win the 100m gold at the Games after Chidi Imoh (1987), Davidson Ezinwa (1995), Deji Aliu (2003) and Olusoji (2007).
Pre-race favourite, Cote d’Ivoire’s Arthur Cisse came second in 9.97 seconds while the second Nigerian in the final, Itsekiri Usheoritse Ese ran a new 10.02 seconds personal best to win the bronze medal.
Ekevwo’s time also catapulted him to sixth fastest Nigerian in the Nigeria all-time list behind Fasuba (9.85), Divine Oduduru (9.86), Seun Ogunkoya (9.92), Davidson Ezinwa (9.94), Olapade Adeniken (9.95) and Deji Aliu (9.95).
He also became the second Nigerian to run inside 10 seconds in winning the tittle after Aliu ran 9.95 seconds to set a new Games record en route to winning the title in Abuja in 2003.
In the women’s version, Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie Josee Ta Lou ran a comfortable 11.09 seconds to successfully defend the title she first won four years ago in Congo Brazzaville.
With Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare out of the final after she false started in the semi-final, the coast was clear for Ta Lou, the fastest African woman over the distance this year, to stroll to victory and she did it without breaking much sweat.
Nigeria’s duo of the beautiful Joy Udo-Gabriel and Alphonsus Anikeme came in fourth and eighth with the former running 11.44 seconds, just two hundredths of a second off her personal best of 11.42 seconds.
Another debutant, Enekwechi expectedly picked the Shot Put gold medal after heaving his eighth throw over 21m (21.48m) this season. It was the only 21m throw at the event and the Nigerian capped his debut at the games with a gold medal.
In the 110m hurdles, Nigeria’s Abejoye Oyeniyi Ezekiel won the silver medal (13.90 seconds) behind Algeria’s Bouanani Amine, while in the women’s high jump, Doreen Amata’s bid to win a third gold medal became a mere wish as her 1.78m height was only good enough for the fifth position behind compatriot, Isah Esther, who also cleared 1.78m.
Ghana’s Yeboah Rose Amoanimaa won the gold (1.84m), while Morocco’s Siba Rhizlane (1.81m) and Ethiopia’s Ubang Ariyat Dibow (1.81m) settled for the silver and bronze medals respectively.
It was silver and bronze for the Nigerian duo of Ogunrinde Temilola Olatoke (64.68m) and Olatoye Oyesade Adetola in the women’s hammer throw as Burkina Faso’s Bambara Laetitia Kimalou won the gold (65.28m).
The third Nigerian in the final, Queen Obisesan threw 61.82m to place fifth. It was the second consecutive silver for Ogunrinde since he switched allegiance to Nigeria from the USA.
Meanwhile sprint hurdler, Tobi Amusan ran a blistering 12.69 seconds to qualify for the final of the 100m hurdles, which holds today.
Also in the final as one of the fastest losers is Ayemoba Grace Ikaluse. She ran 13.59 to place fourth in her semifinal heat.
In the women’s 400m, the duo of Favour Ofili and Patience Okon-George made it to today’s final. Ofili ran 51.94 seconds to win her semifinal heat, while Okon-George came in third (51.96) behind pre-race favourite, Botswana’s Moroko Galefe (51.53) and Moraa Mary of Kenya (51.75).
In the men’s version, the duo of Ojeli Ifeanyi Emmanuel (46.21) and Chidi Okezie (46.20) came in second in their respective semi-final heats to also qualify for today’s final, while Orukpe Erayokan, who broke 45 seconds (44.95) four years ago and placed sixth in the final (45.73) did not start his semi-final heat.