PROUD father, Chris Onwuzurike, says he knew his son, Udodi, will win a gold medal at the World Athletics U-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
Udodi won Team Nigeria’s third gold medal at the event on Saturday, coasting home in 20.21secs — a personal best — to emerge winner of the men’s 200m event.
The young sprinter, with a good start, shrugged off pressure from 100m gold medallist Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo to win Nigeria’s first gold in the 200m since Francis Obikwelu claimed it in 1996.
Tebogo finished in 20.38secs, while South Africa’s Sinesipho Dambile won the bronze medal in 20.48secs.
The feat moved Nigeria to third place on the medals table with three gold and two bronze medals, behind hosts Kenya and surprise package Finland.
Team Nigeria also won gold in the 4x400m mixed relay and the women’s 400m courtesy of Imaobong Nse Uko.
Favour Ofili (women’s 200m) and Chinacherem Nnamdi (men’s javelin) won the bronze medals.
Onwuzurike, who was at the Kasarani Stadium to cheer his son, told Sunday PUNCH, “I expected nothing less, going by the speed he won the first and second heats. We give God the glory.”
Also, Uko described her 400m victory as the beginning of good things to come, after claiming her second gold medal of the event. She is a member of the victorious 4x400m mixed relay quartet.
The 17-year-old ran a PB 51.55secs to claim victory, running a superb last 50m to beat Poland’s Kornelia Lesiewicz to second place, while Kenyan Sylvia Chelangat won the bronze medal.
“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 hard work, but the future is so bright,” Uko said.
The women’s 200m was packed, with Tokyo 2020 Olympics silver medallist Christine Mboma and her Namibian teammate Beatrice Masilingi the clear favourites.
Favour Ofili, however, gave both women a fair contest, claiming the bronze medal with a national U-20 record of 22.23secs, behind Mboma’s championships record of 21.84secs for the gold medal and Masilingi’s PB of 22.18secs.
In other events of the day, Best Erhire was unlucky, missing out on the podium after finishing fourth in high jump (2.14m), while compatriot David Aya finished eighth with a jump of 2.10m.
Another Nigerian Ekporere Oghenemine finished last in the men’s 110m hurdles final.
Ezekiel Nathaniel qualified for the final of the men’s 400m hurdles as one of the fastest losers, after finishing third in Heat 1. The men’s 4x100m and 4x400m also qualified for the final.
It’s Nigeria’s best ever performance at the championships, with the 4×100m (men and women) and 4×400m (women) relay teams also in contention for medals on Sunday (today), the final day of the event.
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