Edo To Develop Sports, Tourism With Okpekpe Road Race

Edo Targets Sports, Tourism Development With Okpekpe Road Race
File photo: Governor Godwin Obaseki

 

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, says the state government’s sustained support for the Okpekpe Road Race is integral to its commitment to driving sports development and boosting tourism receipts in the state.

Governor Obaseki said this while participating in the event which took place on Saturday in Benin City, the state capital.

He noted that government would continue to provide the needed support to ensure that the organisers maintain the set standards and continue to improve the race.

The governor promised to continue to maintain infrastructure, security and other structures to ensure the success of the event in the future.

According to him, this will help the organisers to improve the status of the event while government leverages the opportunity in hosting the race to promote the local culture of the people.

“The state’s tourism sector will benefit from this event, which will also open rural areas to tourists from across the globe,” Obaseki added.

He was joined in the VIP runners by his predecessor, Mr Adams Oshiomhole and the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung, while his deputy, Mr Philip Shaibu, competed in the race as an elite runner.

The event recorded decent participation despite the heavy downpour, as Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes dominated the 10km road race.

Mr Dalung, on his part, urged sports enthusiasts and stakeholders to support the government’s drive to promote sports development.

He noted that through the support of stakeholders, Nigeria can be repositioned for long distance races which can only be achieved through the support of private investors.

The minister who commended the outcome of the 6th edition of the Okpekpe Road Race as tremendous, however, said, “More sponsorship is needed to take the race to the next level.”

“If we continue in this direction, future editions and more events will translate to more job opportunities for youths,” he added.

Mr Oshiomhole was also delighted that the race has brought development to the people of Okpekpe town as well as improved their economic well-being.

He stated further that the improvement recorded in hosting the event would assist the state government open the rural area for more development.

A representative of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Norrie Williamson, said the race, which is the only Silver Label Road Race in sub-Saharan Africa, was well-organised.

He was delighted that despite the weather, the enthusiasm displayed by participants goes to show that the event is a huge success.

For the male elite category, Kibet Alex of Kenyan came first with a time of 29.46.

Another Kenyan, Simon Cheprot with 30.29, came second while the third position went to his fellow compatriot, Ronoh Timothy, who finished at 30.39.

In the female category, Ethiopian Yami Dera won the star price with a time of 33.01 while Kenyan Tuei Sandra came second at 33.33 and another Kenyan, Kipyokei Diara, ran a time of 34.24 to clinch the third position.

In the local male category, Emmanuel Gyang took the first position, Gideon Goyet took the second position, and Ismail Sodie came third.

In the female category, Debora Pam won the star price, Rose Aknstro came second and Hudung Giang came third.

Okpekpe Tops List of IAAF Label 10km Races For May

East Africans Sweep Okpekpe Road Race

The sixth edition of the Okpekpe international 10km road race will officially flag off a number of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) label road races in the world this year.

The race in Okpekpe, a town in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State located about 25 km North East of Auchi will be the first IAAF silver label road race in West Africa just like it did in 2015 when the town became famous for hosting the first ever IAAF label road race in sub-Sahara Africa.

The history-making event will take place on Saturday, May 12 and it is the only IAAF silver label 10km road race for the first half of 2018.

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A day later, attention will move to the Indian city of Bangalore for the IAAF gold label Tata Consultancy Services World 10K Bengaluru which holds a day after the Okpekpe race.

Ottawa in Canada will host the third and final IAAF label 10km road race for the first half of the year. The Ottawa 10km race will hold on May 26 and it is an IAAF gold label road race.

Meanwhile, organisers of next weekend’s first-of-its-kind race in Okpekpe has warned that registered athletes must wear the temporary timing chip attached to their race number.

Henry Amike, the elite athletes manager for the silver label race said failure to wear this will result in the participant’s name being omitted from the results. This means such a participant will not be eligible for the prize monies on offer.

”The race number and temporary timing chip are linked to your name and finishing time.

Allowing another person to compete with your number will result in disqualification of the other person and your exclusion from next year’s event,” Amike warned.

He also disclosed that the use of personal music players with headphones will not be allowed.

IAAF Confirms Date For 2018 Okpekpe Road Race

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has confirmed that the 2018 Okpekpe International Road Race will hold on May 12th.

Okpekpe 10-km race has been listed by the IAAF as one of the 10 Silver Label races to hold in the first half of 2018.

The athletics body elevated the race to a Silver Label status after the Cape Town Marathon in South Africa, which was upgraded to a Gold Label status.

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The 2017 Edition of the race saw Ethiopia’s Leul Gabriesialse and Gabru Azemra win the men and women categories.

The Okpekpe road race is the first and only road race in Nigeria that has been granted full membership of Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS).

Solomon Dalung Proposes Replication Of Okpekpe Race Across Nigeria

Dalung To Meet NFF Over CAF ElectionsThe Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung has commended the organisers of the fifth edition of the Okpekpe 10km road race for its successful completion.

Mr Dalung, however, noted that it is necessary to organise similar races across the country not just for the health benefits, but also for the development of the country’s professional athletes.

Meanwhile, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki has given an assurance that the state government would not relent in its efforts to host better editions of the Okpekpe road race.

Furthermore, Obaseki revealed plans to unravel more rural areas in the state to host more international competitions.

The Former governor of the state, Adams Oshiomhole also commended the continuity of the bronze labelled race by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Okpekpe Road Race To Attract More Investors

The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has called on investors to do business in Edo State using the 10km Okpekpe Road Race as a testimony of a friendly environment.

Speaking at the 5th edition of the 10km Okpekpe Road Race, Obaseki who ran and completed his race for charity said the vegetation around Okpekpe is suitable for agricultural investments.

He said his administration will ensure that Edo State returns to its glory days in sports.

“We are already preparing our master plan in sports and also the setting up of a sports commission in the state will help us achieve our goal as a government.

“I want to thank you all who have made this event successful. We have been able to bring the world to Okpekpe to enjoy the beauty of the land and hospitality of the people of the town.”

Governor Obaseki added that the prize money was not the only attraction.

“Some people ran for a living and they did better than some of us who do not do this for a living but ran for a cause, like running for cancer, orphanages and running against cultism. For me, I ran for the cause to support orphanages”.

The former Governor of Edo State, Adam Oshiomhole lauded Governor Obaseki for his commitment to the world-class event adding that his participation has allayed fears in some quarters that the race will not be sustained.

“We should all congratulate the Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki for sustaining the tradition and his participation has given affirmation for the race.”

On his part, the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalong expressed satisfaction at the standard witnessed during the event calling on the private sector to show more interest in promoting sports in Nigeria.

“Okpekpe tradition is unique and I call on private sectors to key into the programme to improve it.”

Over 3,000 Athletes To Run At Okpekpe Road Race

Over three thousand athletes have been confirmed to run at the fifth Okpekpe International 10km road race which holds on Saturday at Okekpe near Auchi in Edo State.

A top technical official of the race, Yusuf Ali, said the number is made up of over 23 foreign elite athletes and 32 from the Nigerian elite class.

The former Commonwealth record holder, also revealed that doping procedures will follow immediately after the race.

The duo of Kenyan’s Simon Cheprot and Polline Wanjiku Njeru are the defending champions of the bronze labelled race.

Edo Set To Hold 5th Edition Of Okpekpe Road Race

All is now set for the 5th edition of the Okpekpe Road Race which is scheduled for May 13, 2017 in Okpekpe, Etsako East local government area of Edo state.

Addressing journalists at the Government House in Benin City, the Edo state capital, a team from the organising committee led by Mike Itemuagbor, disclosed that the event has seen some upgrades including a mobile app for access to competition details and the use of transponders and trackers to eliminate cheats.

He disclosed further that the 10km Okpekpe Road Race which is a bronze category event of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), will make Edo state a tourist attraction.

Itemuagbor added that athletes from 11 countries namely, Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea, Turkey, Germany, Bahrain, Morocco, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burundi and Nigeria, are expected to participate in this year’s edition.

He assured participants of improvements in the competition particularly the VIP race.

“We want to do an effective VIP race, especially those that would run for a cause,” the committee leader stated.

On his part, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, lauded the organisers for the innovations in the 2017 edition.