SEVERAL minutes after losing what could have been a second gold medal for Team Rivers on day one of the cycling event of the ongoing National Sports Festival, Juliet Akaegbu was dumb-founded, thoughtful of what went wrong at the finishing point of the race.
Among the 13 female contestants for the gold medal in the 200 metres cycling race, which took place on Eric Moore Road in Surulere in the morning of the opening ceremony, Akaegbu was tipped for the gold by fans after she led the pack from the preliminary round to the semi-final.
After Edward Osim defeated all contenders in the men’s category to win the first gold medal of the festival for Team Rivers, all attention was on Akaebgu to make it a double for the defending champions.
True to the expectations, she started well, leading the race, but close to the finish line, the unexpected happened. Overexcited that she had won the race, Akaegbu looked back with a smile thinking that she was far ahead of other contestants. She was wrong.
Joke Durogbade, representing Oyo State, who never gave up, capitalised on Akaegbu’s loss of concentration to wreck havoc, as she sped past the Rivers State cyclist to finish first. Akaegbu tried to increase her speed but her effort was too little, too late.
“I am so disappointed with myself,” she told The Guardian as she headed into a waiting bus back to their camp. “I am very sure I have disappointed a lot of people here as well as my fans.
“I lost the gold medal due to carelessness on my part and that will not repeat itself. Just help me appeal to my fans not to feel too bad. I am going to make up by winning other events.”
On her part, the gold medallist, Durogbade, was full of praises to God for the victory, saying, “the gold medal is made in heaven.”
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