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Oduduru, Erayokan, 450 others for Top Sprinter 2016 festival in Lagos


Divine Oduduru

Divine Oduduru

Olympian, Divine Oduduru is among over 450 athletes already confirmed for this year’s Top Sprinter competition, which will hold from September 29 to October 1, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.

The competition is expected to be the biggest track and field fiesta in Nigeria, going by the list of stars line up for the event. Also listed for the three-day competition is another member of Team Nigeria to the Rio Olympics, Orukpe Erayokan.

The presence of Oduduru and Orukpe will add colour to the event, which will give Lagosians the opportunity of catching a glimpse of Nigeria’s finest athletes.The organisers of the event, Making of Champions Ltd, are bringing together the past, present and future stars of Nigerian athletics to Top Sprinter 2016, which for the first time in Nigeria’s history, will feature three age categories at the same competition. They are the Youth U-17, Junior U-20, Senior (20 & over) will compete on the same track.

The 3-day event will climax on Nigeria’s Independence Day on October 1.At the recently concluded Rio Olympic Games, Oduduru became the cynosure of all eyes on the track when he ran against World champion, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt twice in the heats and semis in the 200m.

In this year’s Top Sprinter competition, Oduduru will contest against Erayokan and Nicholas Imhoaperanhe, who is the defending champion of National Sports Festival in 400m. There is also Samson Nathaniel, who was a World Indoor 4x400m finalist for Nigeria this year.

The 4x100m and 4x400m relays will also take place on the final day, and there will even be a Masters’ 100m race, which will see Olympic Medallists, Deji Aliu and Uchenna Emedolu go head-to-head and re-ignite their rivalry. The duo became two of only eight Nigerians who have ever run the 100m in less than 10 seconds.

The highlight of Day 1 (Thursday September 29th) will be the men’s 100m final, where Oduduru and Imhoaperanhe will be engaged in a battle of superiority. They will face stiff competition from the likes of Emmanuel Arowolo and Biola Soyemi, who were consistent in the 2016 Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Golden League this season, as well as national junior champion, Raymond Ekevwo.

The highlight of Day 2 (Friday September 30th) will see a power tussle in the men’s 400m final between Erayokan and Nathaniel, who moved to the United States earlier this year. Both athletes represented Nigeria at the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville Congo, where they posted their personal bests (PBs), with Erayokan becoming the 5th fastest Nigerian ever in the 400m with a blistering time of 44.95s. Nathaniel ran a PB of 45.80s.

The ladies are not left out. The 2015 National 200m champion, Praise Idamadudu, and African Championship and World Junior athletes such as Yinka Ajayi, Mercy Ntia-Obong and Blessing Adiakerehwa will compete in the various women’s sprint events – 100m, 200m and 400m.

To many athletics followers in the country, Top Sprinter 2016 is a massive post-Rio 2016 Olympics Games and also a journey to discovering Nigeria’s next generation of stars for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and beyond.

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