Ethiopian runners showed why they belong to the top echelons of marathon and long distance races on Saturday by winning the men and women’s categories of the 7th edition of the Lagos Access City Marathon.
Ulfata Gelata won the first position in the men’s race while his compatriot Dagne Siranesh Yirga finished ahead of all the other runners in the women’s category.
Geleta who finished as the first runner-up at last year’s edition moved up this time to emerge as the proud winner of the $30,000 (about N12m) first price money.
The Ethiopian’s winning time of 2.11.54 sec was short of the Course Record set in the 2020 edition, it is the second-fastest ever in the history of the annual 42km road race.
The Kenyan duo of David Barmasai and Emmanuel Naibei finished second and third respectively for second and third place respectively.
Barmasai and Naibei went home with $20,000 and $15,000, respectively for their efforts at this year’s race.
In the women category, Ethiopia’s Dagne winning time was 2 hours 33 minutes and 50 seconds.
She was followed in second place by compatriot Alemenseh Guta and Kenya’s Naomi Maiyo in third place.
This is only the second time that an Ethpionan will win both the male and female categories of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
In the Nigeria category, Shehu Muazu and Fadekemi Olukemi were the top finishers who won the N1m prize monies set aside for the indigenous athletes.
Youth and Sports Development Minister, Sunday Dare has assured that Nigeria’s fortunes at the annual Lagos City Marathon would improve once the country’s High-Performance Centres begin full operations.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos on Saturday during the 7th edition of the race, Dare said the Sports Ministry and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) would work together to ensure that Nigerians become more competitive in long-distance races.
“Our plan is to ensure that Nigerians do not just make up the numbers but also enjoy podium finishes in long-distance races. We are reviving some of the programmes that will make this happen.
“We are also going to get our High-Performance Centres fully operational. We have a centre in Pankshin, Plateau State and another one in Taraba State.
“Hopefully in the next few editions of this marathon, we would have a Nigerian clean sweep of the podium places,” the minister stated enthusiastically.
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Izuchukwu Okosi is a Nigerian sports and entertainment journalist with two decades of experience in the media industry having begun his media journey in 2002 as an intern at Mundial Sports International (MSI) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), owners of Daar Communications Plc.
In October 2004, Okosi joined Complete Communications Limited, publishers of Complete Sports newspaper and Complete Football magazine as a reporter and later script writer for the Complete Sports studio.
He worked there for 13 years until October 2017.
Okosi also worked various times as Correspondent, Content creator and Editor at Sports Market International Magazine, Opera News, All Nigeria Soccer Media and Iconic Media Watch.
He also undertook freelance writing gigs for some local and international organizations.
Okosi is a member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Association of Voiceover Artistes of Nigeria (AVOA), Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He has been part of cast in some Nollywood movies and radio dramas including Blood Money 2, Scores To Settle, Dead End 2, Another Campus Tale and Battle Line.
Aside mainstream media and the entertainment industry, he has interests in scouting/unearthing of talents in the sports and creative sectors, exports business and property development.