Uwakwe is tournament’s best, Oduduru picks 200m gold, Brume silver in triple jump
THEY dreamt of 10 gold medals, but got nine, a performance described as ‘excellent’ by coach Tobias Igwe Sunday, as the 11th African Junior Athletics Championship came to a close at the Stade Germain Comarmond Bambous in Mauritius.
Team Nigeria captured two more gold in the male and female 200m events to emerge overall champions of the competition yesterday. One of Nigeria’s athletes, Nkiruka Uwakwe, was the tournament’s best after winning the 200m gold in 24.21 seconds to bring her tally to three gold medals in the championship. She was part of Nigeria’s 4x100m relay that won gold as well as the 4x400m victorious team.
Before Uwakwe’s victory in the 200m event Sunday, all eyes were on sensational Ese Brume for the tournament’s best athlete position. Brume was part of the gold winning 4x100m relay team before picking a gold in the long jump event on Saturday.
However, her dream of two individual gold medals could not materialise in the triple jump Sunday, where she finished second behind Lerato Sechele of Lesotho. While Sechele jumped 12.62 meter, Brume leaped 12.52m to settle for the bronze. She set a new personal best in the process.
Divine Oduduru, who was part of Nigeria’s team to the World U-17 Championship in Ukraine two months ago, captured the 200m gold with a new personal best time of 21.19 seconds. He was full of praises to God yesterday for the victory, which came through hard work. The race was keenly contested with great challenges from Permal Jonathan of Mauritius and Mokofeng James of South Africa. While Oduduru got the gold in 21.19 second, Jonathan and James got the silver and bronze in 21.26 seconds and 21.62 seconds respectively.
Team Nigeria also got a silver in the boy’s high jump through the effort of Theddus Okpara, while Daisy Akpofa and Judith Aniefuna got bronze in the 400m female hurdles and girl’s shot put events.
On the final medals table released at the end of the championship, Nigeria had nine gold, seven silver and three bronze, while South Africa was second with seven gold, nine silver and three bronze. Ethiopia was third with seven gold, seven silver and eight bronze. Egypt is fourth with five gold, four silver and two bronze, just as Kenya finished fifth with four gold, nine silver and four bronze. The host country, Mauritius, was in the 11th position with two silver and three bronze medals.
Speaking with The Guardian shortly after the victory Sunday, the duo of Uwakwe and Brume were full of thanks to God.
Brume however said that she lost the gold in the triple jump to her Lesotho counterpart because she competed with her for the first time. “This is the first time I competed with her and it was so painful I lost this gold on the last day. But I am grateful to God for winning three medals here.”