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Ethiopian marathon legend Bekele returns to Olympics after 12-year absence

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After a 12-year absence on the international race circuit, Ethiopian marathon legend, Kenenisa Bekele, has announced that he will return for the 2024 Olympic Games in July after he was named in a 10-member team on Thursday.

The 41-year-old Bekele last competed in the London Games in 2012 when he finished fourth in the men’s 10,000m before he was overlooked for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.

His surprise return to the Ethiopian team came after a remarkable second-place finish at the London Marathon in April which was enough to earn him a place for the Paris Olympics in a squad which also features women’s world record holder Tigist Assefa.

In his heydays, Bekele won three Olympic golds in the 5,000m and 10,000m, and is now expected to renew his rivalry with reigning Olympic champion and former world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya who was also named in the Kenyan team.

In August 2003, Kipchoge dusted his Ethiopian rival when the two met for the first time at the Paris World Championships, holding on to win the 5,000m race, pipping Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj into second place while Bekele finished third.

Bekele made his marathon debut in April 2014 when he produced the sixth-fastest run over the distance in Paris but his career has been hampered by injuries.

Other members of the Ethiopian men’s team for the Olympics are Sisay Lemma, the Valencia marathon champion, and Deresa Geleta, while 2023 New York marathon champion and 2022 world champion Tamirat Tola and Eusedin Mohammed, are standby reserves.

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Nigeria unleashes 40-man contingent for African Athletics Championships in Cameroon

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The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) has released a 40-man contingent for the 23rd African Championships in Cameroon starting from June 21, with world 100m hurdles record holder, Tobi Amusan, headlining the team.

Amusan who just made history at the Nigeria Olympic trials by becoming the first female hurdler to win four consecutive national titles, will be heading to Cameroon aiming for a hat-trick of 100mH titles after winning in 2018 and 2022.

If she succeeds in her quest, the world record holder will become only the third Nigerian hurdler to win the event consecutively after Maria Usifo and Glory Alozie.

Also included in the team for the sprint events are newly crowned fastest man and woman in Nigeria, Kanyinsola Ajayi and Favour Ofili, who will be gunning to continue with their fine form this season by winning their first African titles in the event.

In the men sprint list, Usheoritse Itsekiri and Godson Brume are the standout athletes while the women’s category has Tima Godbless, Rosemary Chukwuma, Justina Eyakpobeyan, and Olayinka Olajide.

African Games champion Chidi Okezie and veteran Patience Okon lead in the 400m, while others on the list are national champions Dubem Amene and Esther Elo Joseph, NCAA standouts Samuel Ogazi and Ella Onojuvwevwo, as well as Ifeanyi Ojeli.

Ese Brume tops the list in the field events, and will be seeking to reclaim her long jump title while new kid on the block, Prestinal Ochonogor who won the national title in a massive personal nest of 6.72m will hope to cause an upset and perhaps hit the Paris Olympic qualifying standard.

The men’s field category has Charles Godfred, Goodness Iredia, and Emmanuel Njoku, and following their historic performances at the Nigeria Olympic trials, where they swept above the 8m mark, they will be hoping for the same omen or perhaps better their PBs in their quest to return Nigeria back to the podium for the first time in 21 years.

Temitope Adeshina has a chance at making Nigerian history by becoming the first African champion in the women’s high jump event but will have stiff competition in Ghana’s Rose Yeboah, the best in the event in the continent and the NCAA.

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Former Ghanaian int’l Michael Essien on verge of losing choice properties

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Former Ghanaian international midfielder, Michael Essien, is on the verge of losing two of his choice properties worth millions of dollars following an order by an Accra High Court for the properties to be auctioned.

The order for the auction of the properties was given by the Deputy Sheriff of the High Court (Commercial Division) on June 12, 2024, following a recent court ruling against the former Chelsea midfielder.

The properties, according to reports in the Ghanaian media, are located at Stephen Quarshie Crescent, East Legon, House Number 9 and House Number 204/205, Trassaco (Phase 2), Adjiringano, all in Accra, with one of them said to be valued at between $20 million and $30 million.

Foremost Ghanaian sports journalist, Saddick Adams, who confirmed the court order in a video, said the genesis of Essien’s troubles began when he signed a mortgage for the aforementioned properties many years ago and was paying for them in installments.

In the video, Adams said Essien had put the mansion in the care of his wife, Akosua Puni, who was then supposed to take over the payment of the mortgage.

“When the payment for the mortgage ceased coming, the owner took the matter to court to try to retrieve the money,” Adams said on his show on Angel FM on Tuesday.

He explained further that Essien no longer had an interest in the property and so reached an agreement in court for the mansions to be sold, so that he could use his share of the proceeds to buy a new house at another location.

“Essien has not taken out a loan. He’s not broke. It is being reported that he is in debt due to several loans, but the truth is that it is a mortgage he signed while he was playing and was paying in bits.

“Then it got to a time when payment was not coming through as it was supposed to. So the property owner or the bank that financed it decided that they wanted to take it back, so it is not a loan.

“Essien also left the house in the care of his wife, Akosua Puni. He had no interest in it as his property, and so the control was left in someone else’s care who was expected to continue with the payment of the mortgage.

“According to a close friend of Essien who also had a property in the same area, the cost of the mortgage shot up while property prices in the area have also gone up,” Adams added.

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