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No home advantage! Nigeria behind Kenya, S’Africa as championships end

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Home advantage meant little as host nation Nigeria placed third on the overall medals table at the 21st African Athletics Championships, behind Kenya and South Africa.

On the final day of the five-day event held in Asaba, Nigeria added three gold medals to finish with a total of nine golds, five silvers and five bronze, totaling 19 medals.

Grace Anigbata won gold in the women’s long jump, Glory Nathaniel added another gold medal in the women’s 400m hurdles, while the quartet of Patience Okon-George, Abike Egbeniyi, Shade Abugan, and Yinka Ajayi claimed the gold medal for Nigeria in the women’s 4X400m final.

In the men’s 200m, Divine Oduduru finished second, winning a silver medal for Nigeria, behind South African pair of Ncincilili Titi and Loxolo Adams, who clinched gold and bronze, respectively.

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Nigeria’s 4X400m men relay team won a bronze medal, finishing behind Kenya (gold) and South Africa (silver).

Other big Africa winners on the day included, Caster Semenya, who defended her women’s 800m final title and broke the African Championships record previously held by Maria Mutola, while Maria-Josee To Lou of Ivory Coast completed the golden double in the sprints at the competition, winning the 200m event.

It was a clean sweep for Kenya in the 3000m steeplechase, the trio of Beatrice Chepkpech, Celliphine Chespol and Cherono Fancy making it on to the podium in that order.

On the final medals table, overall winners Kenya finished with 11 gold, six silver and two bronze. South Africa came second with nine gold, 13 silver.

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South African club admits they can’t keep Nwabali

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Chairman of South African club side, Chippa United, Siviwe ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi, has given up on retaining the services of Super Eagles goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, who is now the subject of transfer speculations among top European and Asian clubs.

Mpengesi, in an interview with Idiski Times, admits the club has given up hopes of keeping their safe hands with the transfer talks gaining momentum.

He stated that the SA club is currently in talks with a few clubs abroad and will not hold Nwabali back should a good offer arrive.

“We are talking to a few clubs abroad. We also believe that he needs something better, especially after the performance that he showed at the Afcon,” the club chairman said.

“If the opportunity comes especially from abroad, of course even if it comes locally and the offer is for him, it’s not even for us. If the offer for him is better then we are not going to hold on to him.”

Mpengesi further underlined the club’s commitment to facilitating the player’s progression, whether it be through opportunities abroad or within the local Premier Soccer League.

There have been reports of interest in the Nigerian keeper from clubs in Europe following his sterling performances with Nigeria at the 2023 Africa Cup Of Nations in Ivory Coast where he led the Eagles to the silver medal.

After the Afcon tournament where he emerged as the second best keeper, there have been interest in his services from English side Queens Park Rangers and Saudi Pro League outfit Al-Ettifaq, and Mpengesi affirms Chippa United’s willingness to engage with both local and international suitors vying for Nwabali’s services.

Apart from clubs from abroad, there are also interest from local clubs including Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns and the chairman has conceded that Chippa will not stand in Nwabali’s path should the right offer comes.

Nwabali, a former Katsina United shot stopper in the Nigerian Premier League, is also being touted as a possible replacement for South African international keeper, Itumeleng Khune, whose future at Kaizer Chiefs looks uncertain.

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Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir fulfils promise of breaking world record at London Marathon

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Kenyan Olympic champion, Peres Jepchirchir, on Sunday, lived up to her promise of breaking compatriot Mary Keitany’s women’s-only world record to win the London Marathon.

Athletics World reports that Jepchirchir ran a tactical race, showed great composure, and had a good final kick to shake off her competitors to claim victory in a new women’s-only record of 2:16:16, breaking Keitany’s mark of 2:17:01 set in 2017.

“In what was a fast race, all the top four women ran faster than Keitany’s record with world record holder Tigst Asefa of Ethiopia clocking 2:16:23 for second place after pipping Kenya’s Joyiciline Jepkosgei who managed 2:16:24 to complete the podium,” WA said in a report after the race.

“The favourites for the race were clear past the halfway mark of the race with Assefa, Jepchirchir, Jepkosgei and Magertu Alemu running close to each other.

Jepchirchir and Assefa would exchange leads periodically as the other two stayed close until the final stretch.

“Jepkosgei then surged ahead in the final five minutes, remaining with Keitany’s women’s-only world record win sight.

“Jepchirchir then waited until the final metres before storming to the finish line, leaving her rivals trailing, after showing great pace and power to win in a new mark.

“With the strong field, Jepchirchir had predicted a new world record on Thursday and the race delivered just that.

“The Olympic champion can now look forward to defending her title in Paris as she set to join Boston Marathon champion Hellen Obiri in Kenya’s final three although Athletics Kenya will have a hard time selecting the third athlete to join them.”

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