• Nigeria third on medals table as curtain falls on World Athletics U-20 today
Nigeria’s duo of Udodi Chudi Onwuzurike and Imaobong Nse Uko won gold medals on the penultimate day of the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
Onwuzurike who is American Collegiate fastest runner in the longer sprint, dusted a tight field to win the men’s 200m event of the World Under-20 event which curtains will be pulled today to end four days of topflight junior athletics.
He outpaced Letsile Tebogo of Botswana who came second in a time of 20.38, while South Africa’s Sinesipho Dambile won bronze in a time of 20.48.
The event in both the men and women categories were clean sweep for Africans with Nigeria, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa taking all six medals at stake to bring an exciting end to a historic night.
Prior to the World U20 Championships in Nairobi, not much was known about Onwuzurike, but the 18-year-old has been in a class of his own since arriving at the championships where he is representing Nigeria for the first time in his career.
He had the fastest time of all the heats (20.47) and stormed to a fast 20.13 in the semifinals which would have been a championship record but for the wind (2.4m/s).
In the final, he was quick out of the blocks and came off the bend before everyone else, coasting home to gold with a national U20 record of 20.21, making him Nigeria’s first 200m gold medalist at the World U20 since 1996 when Francis Obikwelu won the sprint double.
Onwuzurike, whose father was at the stadium to cheer him on, gushed after picking the precious metal: “It feels amazing. I had a very rough year and had injuries numerous times. I feel like my numbers weren’t really good and showing what I’m capable of, so coming out to show on the global stage that I’m the best is amazing.”
In the women’s event, Favour Ofili finished 3rd with a time of 22.23 to secure bronze on an impressive day for Team Nigeria. The event was won by Namibia’s Christine Mboma in a time of 21.84, while silver went to Beatrice Masilingi of Namibia.
Nigeria’s Imaobong Nse Uko had earlier in the day cruised to the women’s 400m gold medal in 51.55secs.
The Akwa Ibom-born 17-year old quarter miler came from behind to beat Poland’s Kornelia Lesiewicz to second position in a time of 51.97 while homegirl Sylvia Chelangat of Kenya finished 3rd in a time of 52.23.
Uko’s time is her personal best so far in her career.
Speaking shortly after winning her second gold in a time of 51.55, the youngster said “ It was very tough because of the weather.This is just the beginning of great things in my career. My coach and I really worked hard on this, I’m so excited, it would only get better.Coming here to make so much impact makes me feel so happy.. It means more hardwork, but the future is so bright.”
In the men’s javelin throw, Finnish Janne Läspä won gold over Ukrainian Artur Felfner, while Nigerian Chinecherem Nnamdi finished third and had to settle for silver.