Nigeria has regained the leadership of Africa’s athletics by winning 10 gold, six silver and five bronze medals at the just concluded 18th African Athletics Championship in Port Novo.
Nigeria set a total of three championships and one African record in the five-day competition with Vivian Chukwuemeka, setting a new African, national and championship record of 18.86m for shot put.
The shot put Queen, who is also a Commonwealth champion, toppled her 17.60m record which was set in Tunis in 2002, when she was crowned African champion for the first time.
Blessing Okagbare also erased Chioma Ajunwa’s 6.78m record with a new 6.96m record while the women’s 4x400m relay team erased the 3:29.26 record set by the quartet of Shade Abugan, Margaret Etim, Bukola Abogunloko and Ajoke Odumosu two years ago in Nairobi.
The victory of Nigeria’s men and women’s relay teams in the 4x400m race on Sunday, heralded Nigerian’s return to the summit of African athletics.
The women’s 1600 relay set the tone for an intriguing finish with a new championships record of 3:28.77 to beat Botswana led by individual 400m winner and reigning world champion, Amantle Montsho.
The quartet of Salihu Issah,Amaechi Morton,Abiola Onakoya and anchor-leg runner, Saul Weigopwa picked the gold with a new 3:02.39 seconds record to put Nigeria on top of the medals table 12 years after it last enjoyed that privilege in Dakar, Senegal.
Earlier, sprinters Gloria Asumnu and Lawretta Ozoh had won the gold and silver medals in the 200m with the former winning a photo-finish race with both athletes timed at 22.93 seconds.
In the men’s version, Noah Akwu made a surprise incursion into the medals arena by winning the bronze (20.83 seconds) in a race won by Cote d’Ivoire’s Ben Meite Youssef (20.62 seconds) who made up for his disqualification in the 100m.