It was a day of glory for athletes from Ethiopia as they emerged Winners of Male and Female Categories of the 8th Okpekpe International 10Km Road Race, 2022 Edition, leaving the Second and Third positions for their Kenyan counterparts.

Ethiopians Jasin Haji (male) and Dessie Adchiniau (female ) ran 29. 05 seconds and 33.09 seconds to win the male and female Elite categories, while Kenyans Elvis Cheboi, Derekek Nego (male) and Dorcas Kimeli and Abigail Jelimu (female) emerged 1st and 2nd runners up by finishing in 29.20 seconds, 29.30 seconds, 33.33 seconds and 33.53 seconds respectively.

At the Nigerian category, Sanjo Ismael ( Rivers State), Shehu Muazu Adamu and Buba Gyan from Plateau State finished in the first, second and third positions after running 31.12 seconds, 31.15 seconds and 31.32 seconds respectively.

Rose Akuso (Plateau State), Abiye Joy and Patience Dalung (Plateau State) emerged first, second and third in the female category after crossing the finishing line in 36.40 seconds, 37 59 seconds and 38.07 seconds, while Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu came out overall best in the VIP race.

Speaking to Sports journalists shortly after setting a new personal record as he finished 30 seconds less than his personal best in 2019 when the road race was last held owing to the abreak of COVID-19 Pandemic, Comrade Philip Shaibu, said the Championship has come to stay as the state government is forming a Board Of Trustees to institutionalised the race so that the Champion can continue even after they are out of office.

He disclosed that the race is part of the state government plan to change the narrative in Sports, hence the reloaded 2022 edition, noting that Okpekpe topography is good for marathon race.

“We are looking at domesticating different sports in the state and Okpekpe is in our plan for camping and training of long distance runners.

“The training and camping is not only for local athletes alone but also for National athletes and we aimed to discover athletes that will become marathon champions for Nigeria.”

“So, we are gradually domesticating and relocating Sports to areas in the state they have comparative advantages”, he posited.

While thanking partners of the Championship, Comrade Shaibu, assured that the state government will continue to put smile on the faces of the people, just as he expressed optimism that Championship would continue to grow from best to best.

On his part, the President of Athletes Federation of Nigeria, Mr. Tonobok Okowa, commended the Edo State Government for the sustainability of the Okpekpe Road Race, maintaining that there was much improvement in this year’s Championship.

He disclosed that the AFN under his watch has concluded plans to encourage every state in the country to take a clue from Edo State by organising at least one road race every year which according to him would improve the country’s athletes.

Okowa lauded the people of Okpekpe for supporting the Championship by coming out emasse during the race, just as he called for sponsorship across the country for road race Championship in Nigeria.

Speaking to OBSERVERsports, Jasin Haji, who is the World 9th fastest athlete in 10Km race, appreciated the Edo State Government for keeping alive the Championship, and thanked God for emerging the best in the male category.

He said: “The course was not easy especially the finishing point. The starting point was okay but the finishing point was hilly.

It would be recall that the Okpekpe International 10Km Road Race was last held in 2019 as advent of Corona Virus halted 2020 and 2021 Editions.