Thrills of new national record at first meet in Asaba 2018
Former Nigeria’s hammer throw champion, United States (U.S.)-based Gabriel Opuana was full of joy on Thursday when one of his products, Temilola Ogunrinde mounted the podium at the ongoing Asaba 2018 African Senior Athletics Championships.
Ogunrinde, who was born and brought up in the U.S. set a new national record in the women’s hammer throw, grabbing a silver medal with a new personal best of 67.39m. It was her first competition for Nigeria.
Coach Opuana, a strong advocate of athletes’ rights and welfare, was, however, not invited by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for Asaba 2018.
“I was not invited by AFN for this event, but my athlete was so worried. She felt my absence here in Asaba would be a negative impact on her performance,” Opuana told The Guardian shortly after Ogunrinde received her silver medal.
“I decided to buy my flight ticket and came with her. Maybe, my absence would have affected her because this is her first competition for Nigeria,” Opuana stated.
18-year-old Ogunrinde, a student of the University of Minnesota, U.S, was excited with her feat in Asaba.
“I trained hard for this competition, but to be sincere, I never dreamt of winning a silver medal. You can see how excited I look at the moment. My first competition for Team Nigeria and the result is so fantastic. I am grateful to my coach and all those who assisted me,” she said.
Ogunrinde took a victory lap round the stadium acknowledging cheers from fans after emerging second behind Morocco’s Zakour Soukaina in the Women’s Hammer Throw.
While the Moroccan threw 68.28meters to win the gold, Ogunrinde threw 67.39 meters to settle for the silver medal as Jennifer Batu Bawsikita of Congo won the bronze medal with a throw of 66.43 meters.
The second Nigerian athlete in event, Obisesan Queen placed a disappointing fifth with a throw of 63.02 meters.
Meanwhile, the IAAF President, Sebastian Coe, and his counterparts in the Confederation of African Athletics, Hammad Kalkaba, commended Governor Okowa for providing a legacy in the state with the Stephen Keshi Stadium and other facilities put in place for the championships.
Some top African athletes taking part in the competition have expressed delight at the ambience inside the Stephen Keshi Stadium since the competition began on Wednesday.
As promised by the Local Organising Committee Chairman, Solomon Ogba, there has been a huge turnout of fans at the stadium since Day 1, and the African stars on parade have given thumbs up to the Asaba fans.
Africa’s fastest man at the moment, Akanni Simbine of South Africa, who won the 100m title on Thursday said it was not only a delight to win the gold medal but to also be in Nigeria.
Simbine described Nigeria as a sports-loving country owing to the level of interest shown by the people since the start of the championships.
“If Nigeria can start preparations on time by putting good logistic in place, and doing all the necessary things, they can host the rest of the world in athletics.
“The fans here are wonderful and very cheerful, which is also part of the glamour of major athletics meets in the world. So, if Nigeria can get the other things right, they can host the world,” he said.
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