Nigeria’s fastest woman, Blessing Okagbare, on Thursday leapt to a new 6.97m personal best in the long jump event to win the gold medal as the 66th Cross River State/All Nigeria Open Athletics Championships ended in Calabar.
The jump was not only 6cm better than her previous personal best which fetched her the bronze medal at the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing, China four yearhttp://www.naij.com/myadmin/articles/center.php?mode=news&action=edit&ArticleId=1644#s ago, it also fetched her the N2m jackpot prize set by the Athletic Federation Nigeria.It was reserved for athletes who achieved the best performance, based on the IAAF Scoring (Hungarian) table of athletics.
In some of the other events also decided on the last day of competition, former Commonwealth Games shot put queen, Vivian Chukwuemeka made a triumphant return to the national stage by reclaiming her title with a new personal season’s best of 18.18m. It was also her 14th gold medal in the event at the championships.
Trust me; I am going to London to do Nigeria proud. Forget the time here as you can see that this track is not the type anyone should expect any new record,” stressed the sprinter who earlier this year was in Jamaica to train with world record holder in the 100m and 200m,Usain Bolt.
In the women’s version of the race, USA-based Lawretta Ozoh dashed to the finish line in 22.73secs while Gloria Asumnu (22.89) and Christy Udoh (22.91) placed second and third respectively.
The race was however not without drama. Asumnu who was judged to have beaten the starter’s gun stayed put, arguing she did not commit the offence. She was however allowed to run under protest.
All Africa Games double champion, Oludamola Osayomi was as disappointing in the 200m as she was in the shorter sprint.
After getting off the block clumsily, she lost interest in the race and just stayed on, jogging to the finish line in the last position.
In the men and women 400m hurdles, Amaechi Morton and Ajoke Odumosu were crowned king and queen respectively. Morton, who arrived in Calabar late on Wednesday night from the USA ran 50.3 to win the race.
Doreen Amata also retained her long jump title, soaring over 1.86m to claim the gold medal. USA based Uhunoma Naomi Osazuwa was second in 1.80m while Young Esiekpe (1.67m) was third.
The African champion was however impressed with winning despite not meeting her target of 1.95m. “ It is still ok. I know I will get there before leaving for the London Olympics,” observed the mother of one who finished overall 8th at the last World Championships in South Korea last year.
Amata promised to retain her continental title at the African Championships scheduled for next week in Porto Novo, Benin Republic.
In the Half Marathon, Nigerian Army long distance runner, Stephen Jurbe clocked 1hr.07;16.38secs to win the race leaving Tokbe Givet of Borno (1hr.08:35.62secs) and Danjuma Gyang (1hr.09;07.16secs) to settle for the silver and bronze respectively.