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Jos Cross Country Champions headline list of Nigerian elite athletes for Okpekpe race

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William Kefas and Blessing Shambor Solomon, winners of the Jos Cross Country race last February top the list of Nigerian elite athletes confirmed for the ninth Okpekpe international 10km road race later this month.

Kefar ran 31:38.30secs to win the race ahead of 2022 national 3000m steeplechase champion Stephen Joshua (31:51.69) and Emmanuel Gwang Gwon (32:01.77), who came second and third respectively.

The top three in the men’s race will battle for supremacy once again in Okpekpe. They will be challenged by 2022 Nigerian best male athlete at the event, Ismail Sadjo who ran a new lifetime best 31.12 to narrowly edge Shehu Muazu (31:15) while Gyang Gwon (31:32) was third.

Shambor Solomon, the 2022 National Sports Festival 3000m steeplechase champion ran 38:36.12secs to emerge winner ahead of 11-time national 5000/1000m champion Deborah Pam (38:47:37secs) and Grace Danlami.

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The Jos Cross Country winner has another chance in Okpekpe to prove her performance and victory in Jos were not by happenstance.

In Rose Akuso, the first Nigerian woman to finish the race last year and Abiye David who came second, Shambor Solomon has very tough nuts to crack.

Dare Esan, media an activation director od the race is delighted with the quality of the Nigerian elite athletes registered for the race.

‘Last year a number of them ran new lifetime best and we hope we can start having Nigerian athletes breaking the 30 minutes barrier in the men’s race. The women’s race will also be as competitive as Deborah Pam will be spoiling for a revenge of sort after missing the Cross Country to Shambor Solomon,’ said Esan.

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The media abd activation director has however warned other intending runners, especially those in the Nigerian elite category that they must make sure they collect their running bids at the designated centre before the race.

‘Like we have done in thepast, we will not entertain athletes who fail to collect or give excuses of losing their running bibs the opportunity to move near the starting point.

‘This is a world class race and, for the first time, we are having a gold label 10km road race in Nigeria.’

The Okpekpe international 10km road race is the first road rce to be granted a World Athletics label, the first to have its race course measured by a World Athletics accredited measurer and the first to become a member of Association of International Marathons and Distance Races.

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The race, now in its ninth edition will hold on May 27 in Okpekpe town in Edo state in South South Nigeria.

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