Wadata Barau of Bauchi State emerged as the winner of the male category of the fourth edition of the Senator Douye Diri (SDD) Bayelsa Marathon on Saturday.
One hundred and thirty-five athletes participated in the elite, teens (male and female students), and leisure runners categories of the 21km and 5km races, respectively.
Twenty-four-year-old Barau, a 400-level student of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, beat other participants in the 21-kilometer elite event to clinch the N500,000 star prize.
The race flagged off from the Akenfa community along the Glory Drive and terminated at the Peace Park in Yenagoa.
Nenfort Martins from Plateau State came in second and received a cash prize of N300,000, while Selengue Constant, also from Plateau, was in third and got N200,000.
In the female category, Yilven Nicholas from Plateau State came in first and took the N500,000 prize, followed by Delta State-born Charity Agofure, who got N300,000, while Goar Grace of Plateau State placed third and received N200,000.
In the male teen category, Andrew Bright emerged champion with a cash reward of N150,000; Wisdom Fyneface placed second and got N100,000; Abule Ayibakipriye and Moses Amalala had a tie for third place and received the N50,000 prize.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, congratulated the athletes and bikers for participating in the historic SDD Bayelsa Marathon, which he said had come to stay.
Describing Bayelsa as a sporting state, the governor expressed gratitude to the chairman and members of the Local Organising Committee and the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Hon. Daniel Igali, as well as sponsors, for sustaining the marathon and making it a success.
He said: “The marathon was initiated by a young man in the state, Comrade Odonkumo Igbeita, who mobilised some people on a walk from Kolokuma/Opokuma to Yenagoa in appreciation of my emergence as governor in February 2020. Since then, I have become interested in their activities, and this is the fourth edition of the marathon series.
“I am happy that young people have keyed into the SDD Bayelsa Marathon, and the participants of this race will go beyond Bayelsa and excel at national and international competitions. Bayelsa should be the cradle of sports in Nigeria.”
Diri, who stressed that government alone cannot fund the development of sports, urged corporate organisations, particularly the international oil companies operating in the state, to take up sponsorship of sporting activities and steer the youths toward meaningful ventures.
He commended Igali for his effort at encouraging and grooming young talents from primary and secondary schools, as well as the sponsors of the marathon, which included the Dr. Gloria Diri Foundation and the Tonye Isenah Foundation.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Daniel Igali, said: “The governor has done exceedingly well in the past four years, particularly for investing in road infrastructure and sports development.”
Igali explained that the organising committee added the students category to this year’s edition, stating that the speed walk will be part of next year’s event.
Also speaking, the chairman of the Bayelsa Marathon Club, Comrade Odonkumo Igbeita, said the vision for starting the SDD Marathon was to emulate other states that host such events as well as help boost the tourism sector.
Igbeita expressed appreciation to the state government for supporting the event and thanked the Gloria Diri Foundation and the Tonye Isenah Foundation for their sponsorship.