‘Naijamericans’ Mark Jelks & Monzavous Edwards take African 100m Silver & Bronze!

12 Aug

In the men’s 100m final at the ongoing African Championships, Nigeria’s recently recruited National Champion Mark Jelks, who had looked like the African ‘Champion-Elect’ in the Heats and Semis, was denied the African title by Cote d’Ivoire’s Koffi Hua Wilfred, who won the race in a new Personal Best and National Record of 10.05s, while the Nigerian posted a Season’s Best (SB) of 10.07s to win Silver ahead of team mate, Monzavous Edwards who also clocked an SB of 10.16s for the Bronze. Nigeria’s No.3, Ogho-Oghene Egwero placed fifth in 10.28s, just behind defending champion and the continent’s fastest man in 2014, Simon Magakwe who finished outside the medal zone with 10.19s.

Jelks was not immediately available for comments following the race, perhaps leaving quickly after expecting, but failing to capture the African crown. MAKING OF CHAMPIONS exclusively caught up with Monzavous Edwards later in the day, after he helped Nigeria reach the 4x100m final with the fastest time of 39.51s in the Heats, and he told us what his first medal in Green-White-Green means to him, in the face of the difficult reception he and the other American recruits have received in Nigeria since turning up for the National Trials in June:

“It means a lot to me because I was given a chance by a country when I was forgotten about by a lot of athletes, and by the coaches. So it means a lot to me because they gave me a chance. They gave me a shot.”

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A lot has been said in Nigeria since the new American recruits arrived. In fact, it has been the hot topic in Nigerian Athletics over the last two months, as the debate has raged on as to whether their presence will actually help or hinder the development of Athletics in Nigeria. Following the Commonwealth Games where they were collectively unable to win any individual medals, and where Jelks was the only one to contest a final, many have asked the question as to whether they would be good enough for medals at a higher level of competition, such as the World Championships or Olympics. 

At these African Championships, Jelks was highly favoured to win the title, as he was the in-form athlete in the field, coming in as the only African who made the 100m Commonwealth Final. But Cote d’Ivoire is not part of the Commonwealth, so Koffi Hua Wilfried came in to steal the show in Marrakech! And so, Nigeria’s wait for another African men’s 100m Champion since the mighty Olusoji Fasuba in 2008 continues (Fasuba is still the African Record Holder with 9.85s). Jelks will likely be disappointed with the outcome, but he will have another chance to go for GOLD when the 200 metres gets underway on Wednesday!

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