The Nigerian Police Force has won the 2018 Para-Military Games’ marathon race in both male and female categories.
The 13km race is part of events being competed at the on-going 2018 paramilitary games in Ebonyi.
In the results released by the event’s organisers on Sunday, Smart Ude of the Nigerian Police won the male category in a time of 2 hrs: 20 mins while his compatriot, Juliet Chukwu won the female category in a time of 2hrs; 45 mins.
Obinna Okpozu of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and Esther Oji of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) came second in the male and female categories respectively.
Ejike Okorie of the Nigerian Police and his compatriot, Janet Igwe won third positions in the male and female categories respectively.
Mr Charlse Akpuenika, state Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, noted that the race was historic because it was the first since the state’s creation in 1996.
“We thank the state governor for giving us the opportunity of organising these events which has proved that he is desirous to revamp sports in the state.
“We would shift the grand finale of the paramilitary games to Nov. 25 from its original date of Nov. 18 to enable the governor who traveled, witness the ceremony,” he said.
The commissioner noted that contrary to insinuation that the event lacked the required organizational level, his ministry provided all logistics needed for a hitch-free event.
“We engaged the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Nigerian Red Cross Society on the use of functional ambulances and provision of other medical requirements.
“We also provided items such as water, glucose among others and stationed our officials at strategic points to offer the needed assistance to the competitors.
“We should realise that this is the inaugural marathon race event in the state and such situations would definitely experience some lapses.
“We would correct all noticeable lapses in subsequent editions and I commend the organisers, ministry’s officials, press, among others who ensured the success of the event,” he said.
Akpuenika said that the governor would announce the prizes for winners in the marathon race alongside those in other events during the games’ closing ceremony.
“The medical committee of the games ensured that all competing athletes were screened for drug usage and they were given a clean-bill of health.
“All athletes who competed in the games belong to the various para-military outfits in the state as the screening exercise we conducted indicated that none hired mercenaries,” he said.
Mr Kama Kay, Head of Sports Development in the ministry, reacted to complaints by some of the competitors that most winners committed malpractices during the race.
“The athletes are unaware that we positioned our officials at various points of the race and whenever a competitor reaches there, he would be booked to prove that he actually raced up to such points.
“Many of them thought that the only point of booking is the final point but they are unaware that there are series of points along the race-route,” he said.
Kay said that such allegations would not however, be described as baseless as all complaints would be seriously investigated.
“I urge all the aggrieved competitors to formally relay their complaints to the organisers because we would not act on complaints that form topics of discourse among people,” he said.
Ude, the male category’s winner and a native of Abaomege, Onicha LGA of the state, thanked God for the grace and strength to emerge victorious in the ‘strenuous’ race.
“I also thank my colleagues in the police for cheering me all through the race while congratulating my female compatriot who emerged victorious in the female category.
“I am not surprised at my victory because I have been privately training for such events despite the demanding duties of policing,” he said.
He noted that he was not disturbed over the allegation of malpractices on the part of some winners, stressing that the organisers, other officials, press among others followed his racing from the start to the final point.
Some of the competitors and spectators, complained that some of those declared as winners hired tricycles along the route, to facilitate their victories. (NAN)