Iliya Pam and Deborah Pam from Plateau State on Sunday emerged winners of the 10th edition of the Splash FM Ibadan City Marathon.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Iliya won the male category, having finished in two hours, 36 minutes, while Deborah won the female category after finishing in two hours, 51 minutes.
The 42km race was sponsored by West Midland Communications, owners of Splash FM and Lagelu FM in conjunction with other partners.
The first three winners in the male category went home with cash prizes of N1 million, N700,000 and N250,000 respectively, while those in the female category got N700,000, N400,000 and N250,000 respectively.
Iliya, a second-time winner of the race, is a 300-level student of Physical and Health Education at Federal College of Education, Pankshin, and a member of Plateau State Sports Council.
Deborah, a third-time winner of the same race, is an official of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Kefas Williams and Yohanna Friday emerged runner-up and second runner-up respectively in the male category, while Nuhu Elizabeth and Hudung Gyang emerged runner-up and second runner-up respectively in the male category.
NAN reports that all the winners from first to third in both categories of the event were from Plateau.
Iliya, who was also the winner of the 2018 Access Marathon race in Lagos, gave thanks to God for emerging victorious in the tournament.
“It is unfortunate that I ended the race in 2 hours, 36 minutes as against the 2 hours, 27 minutes of the Access race in Lagos. I had trained very well to participate in the Commonwealth but could not make it.
“I am determined to compete in international long distance races against Kenyans and others,’’ he said.
Deborah, who won the race in 2013 and 2015, told journalists that she was happy to win the race for the third time.
“I could not attend the last edition due to injury. I never thought I would win this, but I thank God it happened. I have participated in several international competitions.
“I participated in a 50 km race in Doha in 2015; I also participated in a race in China and Cross-Country in Uganda. I also won the last Lagos City Marathon race,” she said.
She claimed that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria had always prevented them from representing the country in tournaments on account of bad finishing time.
Deborah, however, stated that they could do better than the Kenyans by winning laurels all over.
Abayomi Oke and Toye Arulogun, the State Commissioner for Youth and Sports as well as Information, Culture and Tourism respectively, described the race as a great revenue booster.
The duo stated that there was correlation between sports and tourism, adding the event was a welcome development and a great means of promoting sports development.
Oke stated that the sports ministry in the state would not relent in developing sports at the grassroots level, adding that the ministry had evolved several initiatives toward that.
Arulogun, on his part, stated that efforts were underway to ensure that the ‘Oloke Meje Marathon Race’ planned by the state government becomes a reality.
They commended the organiser and collaborators for sustaining the race up to the tenth edition, saying this was a positive development for the state.
Some of the participants told NAN that the event had witnessed a lot of improvement, expressing the hope that the race would attain international status soon.
NAN reports that the race was greeted with excitement across the ancient city of Ibadan as residents thronged the streets to cheer the athletes.
The event featured several other races, aerobics, dancing competition as well as medical and fitness test.
Among those present at the event were Adebayo Akande, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of West Midlands Communication and his wife, Onikepo, a former minister of commerce.
Others were Temitope Olatoye (APC-Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency), Adebayo Oyero and Adewunmi Faniran, the NUJ Chairman in Oyo State.
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