The Nigerian team started their participation in the ongoing African Athletics Under-18 and Under-20 Championships in Ndola, Zambia on a bright note yesterday, with the duo of Joma Oghenefejiro Praise and Oshiokpu Grace winning two gold medals.
Forty-two athletes are flying the nation’s flag at the fourth combined U-18 African Championship and the 15th U-20 African Championship, which began yesterday. Nigeria’s first gold medal came from the U18 triple jump event, where Praise jumped 12.67m. A few hours later, Nigeria increased the tally to two gold medals, with Oshiokpu Grace jumping 13.03m in the Under-20 triple jump event. The Under-18 Boys High Jump event was taking place yesterday at the time of this report.
The president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Tonobok Okowa, who has just been elected as one of the vice-presidents of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), assured yesterday that the gold medal won by Praise and Oshiokpu in The triple jump event was a sign of good things to come for the Nigerian team in Ndola.
“It’s a good start for us, and I congratulate the athlete for her determination and courage in the midst of tough opposition. I am sure that we will do well in this championship”, said Okowa.
The Nigerian team parades with 23 boys and girls in the Under-18 category, and 19 men and women in the Under-20 category. Athletes in Ndola include Nigerian women’s under-20 record holder Tima Godbless, as well as 2022 Asaba National Sports Festival 100m and 200m silver medalist Faith Okwose.
The athletes had undergone intensive training at the Steven Keshi Stadium, Asaba, for over two weeks before leaving for Zambia. Newslodge remembers that in the last edition held in the Ivory Coast in 2019, Enoch Adegoke rose to fame with a record of 10.29 seconds in the Championship, and two years later he became the first Nigerian in recent times to run the final of the Olympic Games.
Another athlete, Favor Ofili, also set two championship records in the 200m (23.38s) and 400m (52.28s) four years ago, as did Rosemary Chukwuma, who successfully completed a double sprint in Costa d’Ivoire in 2019. Nigeria finished third behind South Africa and Kenya in 2019.