Abigael Ogunbowale, an 11-year-old girl, 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 11-year-old girl, 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 the 11-year-old girl; adding that she was a beauty to behold as the curtain closed on the race.
“The courage of the young lad is a beauty to behold…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; adding that 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.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s Hosea Kiplimo won the half-marathon with a time of 1 hour 02 minutes 36 seconds and got the cash prize of 10,000 dollars.
Also, 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.