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Teenage sensation, Sunday Akintan, 17, is among Abuja athletes from different parts of the country jostling to be included in the country’s squad for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games scheduled for July and August.
The competition in Abuja is the third and final stage of the All Comers competition, which involves the best athletes in the country. The All Comers competition started at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin in March, moved to Yaba College of Technology Sports Ground, Lagos last month and is now making its final stop in Abuja.
While the competition in Lagos was used as the last window for home-based athletes to secure the standard of qualification for the 22nd African Senior Athletics Championships to be held in Mauritius in June, the Abuja event will serve as the last chance for athletes to secure places at the AFN Classics which will be held in Benin in a fortnight.
According to AFN Secretary General Adeniyi Beyioku, the event in Abuja will start today and end tomorrow. The AFN scribe told The Tidesport in a phone conversation yesterday that the majority of the athletes have settled into their various hotels in Abuja.
APN Technical Director Samuel Onikeku said the All Comers competition was designed to give athletes the competition they need to help them prepare for major athletics championships and games this summer. “The AFN is pleased with the performances of some of the athletes as they prepare for the big events ahead, starting with the African Championships in Mauritius next month. Our team at the championships will be dominated by local athletes and the federation is happy to always prepare them in terms of competitions,” he said.
Onikeku said that since the competition and others organized by coaches in some states in Nigeria, the athletes have continued to impress. “It is heartening to note that a number of our junior athletes have produced personal bests since the start of the season.
“For example, 17-year-old Sunday Akintan jumped from a 10.65 second runner just over a year ago to run his lifetime record 10.23 seconds. As Ogheneovo Nicholas Mabilo, 19, who ran in 10.24 seconds at the inaugural AFN All Comers in Benin in March.
“Another teenager, Konyasila Ajayi, went from a personal best of 10.92 seconds to 10.26 seconds at the Yaba College of Technology sports field last month, while Gracious Junior Ushie, 20, also achieved a new personal best of 10.25 seconds last month at Ilaro.
“Prosper Oghenemine Ekporore’s performance of 13.71 seconds in the 110m hurdles in Lagos last month is the fastest ever by a Nigerian since Oyeniyi Abejoye ran 13.69 seconds in June 2019. Abejoye himself has finished second in the race in Lagos with a performance of 13.72 seconds.”
The AFN technical director is also impressed with female sprinters, including Praise Ofoku, a 100m runner-up at the U-20 World Championships in Nairobi, Kenya last year, who ran a new personal best of 11, 49 seconds in Benin two months ago.
“There’s also the story of 16-year-old Rejoice Sule Hadijat, who broke 12 seconds for the first time in his career when he clocked a huge personal best of 11.66 seconds in Ijebu Ode three months ago.
“The future of athletics is very bright in Nigeria and with what our athletes are doing in American colleges, the AFN is confident that Nigeria is well on its way to restoring and overcoming its lost glory,” Onikeku said. .