By Olanrewaju Akojede
Eleven-year-old Abigael Ogunbowale on Saturday stole the show at the maiden edition of Ijebu Heritage Half-Marathon as she braved the odds to finish the 21km race at the Otunba Dipo Dina Stadium, Ijebu-Ode in Ogun.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the young runner, a registered runner for the half-marathon, completed the race to prove doubters wrong about her resilience.
The young Ogunbowale was however instantly rewarded with N250,000 cash by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rite Foods, Saleem Adegbuwa, who was one of the race’s co-sponsors.
Adegbuwa praised the courage of , adding that she was a beauty to behold as the curtain closed on the race adding that the next edition would be better.
“The courage of the young lad is a beauty to behold, and seeing such a girl competing with established stars in spite of her age was something. We are looking forward to seeing her getting better.
“As a son of the soil and being involved, I will say it is our thing and is really important that we bring events of this nature home.
“I mean world-class events like this.
“By DNA in Nigeria, we are good at sports, we just need to harness it so we can go international with it. I was not surprised today to see a 55-year-old and 11-year-old finishing the race,” he said.
Adegbuwa also noted that Nigeria was naturally blessed with talents and they would continue to get more backing from his company.
“We were naturally gifted and we just need to make sure the talents here are well-coordinated.
“We intend to do more in sports, with the Abeokuta Marathon also coming up later in the year, and we are looking forward to more like that,” he said.
Femi Olusanya, a police officer from Ijebu-Ode, came first among the indigenous runners who finished the race.
Kenya’s Hosea Kiplimo won the half-marathon with the time of 1 hour 02 minutes 36 seconds and got the cash prize of 10,000 dollars.
His compatriot, Rhonzas Kilimo, came second with the time of 1:02:57 for the Prize money of 7,000 dollars.
Timothy Ronoh, also from Kenya, won the third-place prize with 1:02:59, with Keneth Kiprop in fourth, while John Muriuri came fifth.
In the Female category, Kenya’s Sandra Chebet returned the time of 1:10:42 to emerge winner, while Ethiopians Gebaynesh Ayele and Beyenu Degefa were second and third in 1:10:52 and 1:11:02 respectively.