Thrills, glamour of Abeokuta City 10km race
• It’s fun competing with my daughter, says 60-year-old pastor
• Governor Abiodun hails organisers
Athletes from North African countries swept the medals and the top prizes at the maiden JAC Motors Abeokuta 10km Race on Saturday, but for thousands of fans, who gathered at the finish point at the Alake Palace, their focus was on a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Jonathan Olugboyega Shobande, who completed the race with his 15-year old daughter, Favour Boluwatife.
Shobande, an assistant pastor of the RCCG, Ogun Province 6 Region 12, and his daughter became the main attraction at the end of the race, with fans and other athletes scrambling to take photographs with them. It was a novel case of a father competing with his daughter.When the dust finally settled, 60-year-old Shobande revealed in a chat with The Guardian that he had been a marathoner since 1985.
“I used to feature in the Milo’s 42.591km race,” an elated Shobande said. “I competed in the 1985, ’86 and ’88 Milo marathon, and I used to finish between 10th and 12th positions. “I did not compete in Abeokuta City marathon for money, but to make a statement that old age does not prevent anybody from running. “It is good to engage in sporting activities to exercise the body. The greatest joy to me is competing with my 15-year-old daughter in this race. I thank God for a successful event,” he stated.
Shobande was a teacher at Asero High School, Abeokuta. He retired on 12 June, 2019 on his birthday.While Pastor Shobande is a veteran marathon runner, his 15 years old daughter, Boluwatife, is a beginner. “I am taking part in marathon race for the first time,” Boluwatife told The Guardian. I used to feature in 100m, 400m and 1,500m race for my school, Abeokuta Grammar School, but my father encouraged me to register for the JAC Motors Abeokuta 10km Race to test my strength and made a debut in long distance race.”
Boluwatife, an SS2 student, said her dream is to become one of Nigeria’s great athletes in the nearest future.The Abeokuta City Marathon, which was attended by over 4,000 athletes from 18 countries, saw 21-year-old Kenyan, Biwott Kemboi, going home with the $5,000 star prize in the men’s category. He completed the race in 28 minutes 16 seconds.
An Ethiopian female runner, Tadu Nare smiled home with the $5,000 overall prize, after crossing the finish line in 33 minutes, 43 seconds. Two Ethiopian athletes, Rotich John and Alemneh Tegene, came second and third in the male category after finishing the race in 29 minutes and four seconds, and 30 minutes and 16 seconds respectively.
For the indigenous athletes, Emmanuel Gyang won N1 million first prize in the male category and fourth overall, having crossed the finish line in 31 minutes and one seconds. Nigeria’s Fadekemi Olude went home with the N1 million first prize in the female category, after completing the race in 37 minutes and 29 seconds. Speaking after presenting medals to the winners, Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun hailed the organiser of the race and Chief Executive Officer of Nilayo Sports Management Limited, Bukola Olopade, for bringing the race to the state.
On his part, Olopade, a former sports commissioner in the state, said he was happy for the success his team recorded with the maiden Abeokuta City Marathon.“This is like home coming for me, and I am so happy for the great success we recorded here,” Olopade told The Guardian. “I am sure everyone who participated in this race will agree with me that it is a world-class Marathon race.”
For the first time in the history of road races in Nigeria, journalists from within and outside the country, who covered the Abeokuta City marathon went home satisfied following the treatment they received at the finish point of the race. Project Coordinator, Seyi Johnson said he was thrilled by the large turnout of athletes and spectators for the Abeokuta City marathon.
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