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Ekanem strikes 200m GOLD as Olajide, Sambo, claim double titles on Day 3 of MTN CHAMPS/AFN National Trials in Asaba

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After making history in the men’s 200m heats on Day 2 of the MTN CHAMPS/AFN National Trials in Asaba, Consider Ekanem extended his winning streak to the semis and final of the event, running a fast 20.63s to book his spot in the final, and then crossing the line in 20.60s to win his first title of the competition, a great consolation after being disqualified in the 100m final.

Men’s 100m Champion Israel Okon Sunday also continued his good form, running yet another Personal Best (PB) of 20.87 in the semis to win his race, then settling for Silver with 20.95, while Daje Lucky Oritseweyinmi took the Bronze in 21.26s.

Olayinka Olajide was a class apart from the rest of the women’s 200m field and set new PBs in every race she ran. She started out with 23.31s to win her heat, then posted the fastest time overall in the semis, shaving off 0.04s from her previous time, before winning the final in yet another PB of 23.24s to claim her second GOLD medal of the competition. Precious Nzeakor was 2nd in 23.51s (PB), and Chisom Onyebuchi 3rd with her time of 24.00s (PB).

Another athlete who won double GOLD at the MTN CHAMPS/AFN National Trials was middle distance runner Hamid Sambo who was the man to beat in the 800m, having already dominated the 1,500m on Day 1 of the competition.

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For many years, Sambo had been trying to run under 1min:50s in the men’s 800m – his hard work and persistence paid off after he ran a new PB of 1:49.75 to win this event at the MTN CHAMPS African Games Trials.

Before coming to Asaba, the fastest Sambo had run in the 800m was 1:51.26, and he ran that six years ago in Abuja. With some help and push from his rival, Edidiong Okon, Sambo ran a big PB to secure the 800m/1,500m double.

All eight finalists in the women’s 800m ran new PBs, and Comfort James was at the forefront, dragging other athletes along the way. James shaved off more than two seconds from her previous PB of 2:07.96, applying a strong finish to win the 800m in a new lifetime best of 2:05.11, surpassing the African Games qualifying standard of 2:06.00. Olayinka Saibu finished 2nd in a PB of 2:09.63, while Fatimah Adebayo was 3rd in 2:10.23.

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Samson Nathaniel may just be cut out for the 400m Hurdles, and he is improving with each race. The quartermiler clocked yet another PB to win the event, crossing the line in 51.91s as Gbenga Bakre (52.82s) and Sodiq Adebisi (53.02s) followed. Daisy Akpofa, Feyishara Edun and Mary Laha were the Top 3 finishers in the women’s 400m Hurdles.

Fiaku Goodluck Ezechukwuchiri put up a show in the High Jump, scaling a new PB of 2.12m to win this event. The African U-18 Bronze medallist equalled his PB of 2.10m, and then further improved on that mark to secure the victory in his event.

Prestina Ochonogor Women’s Long Jump with 6.64m, ahead of Mary Adediran and Blessing Gideon.

African Games Silver medallist Kemi Francis commenced her Heptathlon season by building up to next month’s African Games in Accra. After two days of intensive competition across seven events, Francis came out tops with a Season’s Best (SB) of 5104 points. Juliana Ademola and Hope Aruya won Silver and Bronze respectively.

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