Ethiopian, Yasin Haji has emerged champion of the 8th Okpekpe 10KM Marathon Race, held Saturday.
He beat other hundreds of athletes returning a time of 29:05 to win the first West Africa 10KM road race.
Elvis Cheboi of Kenyan came second with a returned time of 29:20 to beat another Ethiopian, Bereket Mego who returned with 29:30 to finish third.
In the Women’s Category, Ethiopian Dessie Adchiniau took the first position with a returned minutes of 33:09 with fellow Ethiopian, Dorcas Kimeli clinching the silver with 33:33 returned time, leaving Kenyan Abigael Jelimo who ran 33:53 minutes with the bronze medal.
In the Nigerian category, Abeokuta Marathon winner, Ismail Sadjo of Cross Rivers raced for 31:12 minutes to price away from the first prize while Adamu Mu’azu raced 31 minutes, 15 seconds; 17 seconds to best Emmanuel Gyang who ran for 31:32 minutes to clinch the bronze.
Rose Atuche in the Women’s ran 36 minutes, 40 seconds to come first, leaving Abiye Joy with 37:59 in the second position and patiently, Patience Dalong waited 8 seconds late to clinch the third position with 38 minutes and 07 seconds.
In the VIP race, Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu crossed the finish line in 21 minutes, 50 seconds slower than he ran in 2019.
Speaking after the race, Comrade Shaibu registered his delight over the marathon, stating that the main dream is to see the region produce future world champions for Nigeria.
“Okpekpe race has come to stay as the dream is to see it outlive us when we are out of power and we are out of this world. I’m excited and also thank all the partners that believed in us and have faith in us. I can see everywhere is bubbling and colourful”.
“Seeing the sons and daughters of Edo topple the foreign athletes is part of what we are working on as far as sports is concerned. This area’s topography is good for marathon races and so, we are looking at domesticating different Sports in different areas”.
“This area is in our plans for camping and training distance race athletes and just like we have Edo central for gymnastics, and Edo South in swimming and other related sports, we are gradually domesticating and relocating sports to areas where they have a competitive advantage and the people of that area can have the advantage of the created opportunity and in terms of tourism, it’s another thing we are looking into; not just for local athletes, but also for national and international athletes.”
“For my record in this race, I have been told that my return today is 21 minutes, 50 seconds less than what I ran in 2019 – in 2019, I ran with some big men so I was following their pace, unlike this year where I ran with major athletes that I couldn’t catch up with their pace.”
“It’s a smile on the faces of our people, the tourism it brings and the economic values that it brings to the community. For the past three months since the news came out that the race is billed for the 28th, economic activities in this place have been at an optimal level and also we are gradually discovering young athletes that could represent us not only in the marathon but in 5000 meters, 1,500 meters and other long-distance race.”
“It’s also bringing awareness that in years to come, don’t be surprised that we will produce the new world champion for Nigeria from us.”