Athletics lived up to expectation as the most anticipated sport at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Asaba, as athletes lit up the Stephen Kesh Stadium with impressive outings on Day 1 of proceedings.
NSF 2022: Unstoppable Godbless, George and Nathaniel shine on Day 1 of Athletics in Asaba
Tima Godbless, Patience George & Samson Nathaniel were the start performers, as Fatoyinbo and Agoh win first Gold medals on Day 1 of Athletics in Asaba.
Sprints sensation, Tima Godbless (Bayelsa) lived up to the hype in the women’s 100m, clocking the fastest time of 11.31s to effortlessly win her heat, and automatically qualify for the semifinals.
The teenager was miles ahead of her peers as the second fastest overall time by Praise Oforku (Delta) was 11.66s in heat 3, Justina Tiana (Delta) was third fastest with 11.75s, and Immaculate Daniels (Rivers) ran a Personal Best (PB) of 11.85s to win heat 6.
Interestingly, the surprise win of the day came in the men’s 100m heat 2, where Sunday Akitan crossed the finish line ahead of race favourite, Enoch Adegoke in 10.30s.
Then in heat 3, Mabilo Nicolas ran the second fastest time of 10.38s, Fakorede Adekalu third fastest with 10.47s, ThankGod Igube clocked 10.48s, and Kayinsola Ajayi with 10.55s, all won their respective heats, qualifying for the semifinal.
*The men’s 100m times are unofficial as of writing this, so there may be changes with the official times when released*
Meanwhile, veteran Patience George (Cross Rivers), proved why she’s still the best quarter-miler in the country and one to beat at the festival, by running the fastest overall time of 53.17s in the women’s 400m heats.
The reigning 400m champion led her heat from the start, ran a controlled race, and even had time to ease off about 50m towards the finish line for a comfortable win, with Folasade Olotu of Rivers coming in second in a distant time of 54.88s.
Her closest challenger will be Queen Usunobun of Delta, who also won her heat in an impressive time of 53.45s. While Josephine Oloye (Edo) with 54.06s and Opeyemi Deborah (Ondo) with 54.17s are tipped to be medal challengers as well.
In the men’s category, Nathaniel Samson showed he is in fantastic form as well, clocking the fastest overall time of 46.70s in his heat race ahead of Johnson Chidera.
The other top five fastest times in the heats are from Oluwatimilehin Olaniyi (Oyo) ran 46.82s, Victory Achakpokiri (Delta) with a PB of 46.97s, Sikiru Adewale (Oyo) ran 47.03s, Ifeanyi Ojeli (Rivers) with 47.28s, and Samuel Japheth (Rivers) ran 47.53s, have all progressed to the semifinals.
For the first time in his career, Prior Ochonogor (Edo) went under 52s clocking a PB of 51.61s, which was the fastest time overall. Gbenga Bakare also qualified for the final, winning heat 2 in 52.44s.
Gbenga Fatoyinbo and Paulstina Agoh win Athletics first Gold medals in Asaba
Delta State’s Gbenga Fatoyinbo, was the first Gold medallist in athletics at the festival, winning the 20km Walk Race in a time of 1:49.21.
While in the women’s event, Bayelsa’s Paulstina Agoh was the race champion, clocking 2:10.21 for victory.
More events are set to be decided on Day 2, especially the men's and women’s 100m final.