Nigerian female sprinter, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and world 800m women champion, Caster Semenya of South Africa were inducted into the African Athletics Confederation (CAA) Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, alongside 14 other athletes and personalities.
Africa’s fastest man with 9.85 seconds, Olusoji Adetokunbo Fasuba and Tosin Oke, who set the current UK junior indoor men’s long jump record, were also honoured.
Also inducted was Nigeria’s quartet team of the 4x200m IAAF World relays champion in 2015 comprising Christy Udoh, Regina George, Dominique Duncan and Okagabre.
Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, a 5,000m outdoor record holder, well as compatriot Mesert Defar, a three-time record holder in 5000m event and Genzebe Dibaba, world record holder in the 2000m indoor event were among the honourees.
The current world and Olympic record holder in both 5,000m and 10,000m events, Kenenisa Bekele, and Almaz Ayana, who broke the women’s 10,000m world record at the Rio Olympic Games, both of Ethiopia, received recognition.
Two-time world champion in the 800m race, Kenya’s David Rudisha and winner of the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2004 Summer Olympics Ezekiel Kemboi also of Kenya made the induction.
Kenya’s VivanCheruyoit, a gold medallist in the 5000m in the Rio Olympics event with South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk, the current world and Olympic record holder in the 400m were also among those inducted.
While Semenya was absent, Okagabare and Fasuba made Nigeria proud as hosts, being the only athletes that were present at the induction ceremony in Asaba.
Okagabare ended up being the one to speak on behalf of all the awarded athletes, and she went on to thank the CAA for recognising their efforts.
“On behalf of the athletes, we want to say thank you for recognising us. Getting this recognition is a great achievement to for us who have served the continent.
“It is not only about winning medals but achievement like this can boost the confidence of athletes. Thank you again,’’ Okagbare stated.