Team Nigeria’s hope of being among top contenders for medals that will be up for grabs at the fast approaching London 2012 Olympic Games, was given a boost when the trio of Blessing Okagbare, Chinwe Okoro and Amaechi Morton surged to win gold in women’s long jump, Discuss and men’s 400m hurdle respectively at the 18th African Athletics Championships. The event came to a close yesterday in Porto Novo, Benin Republic.
Chinwe Okoro threw 56.60metres to give Nigeria her first gold medal followed by Blessing Okagbare, who jumped a personal best of 6.96m to win the gold after she lost the 100m gold to a Gabonese lady. The victory for Nigeria was, however, without drama, as the local organising committee in their desperation to deny Nigeria any chance of emerging top on the medals table earlier withdrew the gold medal won by Amaechi in the men’s 400m hurdles, claiming that the Nigerian obstructed a South African athlete during the race. The gold was later restored after Nigerian officials protested angrily.
Amaechi ran 49.32 seconds to beat Senegalese Mamadou Hanne and Kenyan Boniface Mucheru to the second and third positions respectively in the event. The Senegalese, Hann, ran 49.39secs while Kenya’s Mucheru returned at the time of 49.45 sec. Nigeria also won gold in the women 4x100 metres relay with a time of 43.21 seconds ahead of Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire while the men settled for silver behind South Africa.