………‘Getting Contest From Elite To Platinum Level By 2024 Our Top Priority’ – Governor
…Dr. Hamzat, Sports Minister, Edo Deputy Governor Take Part In Marathon
At exactly 8:03am on Saturday, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu crossed the finish line of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon, ceremonially becoming the first athlete to breast the final ribbon.
Ethiopia’s runner, Ulfata Deresa, finished the 42-kilometre-long race 11 minutes after the Governor’s arrival and became the winner of the marathon’s 7th edition in the male category. He set a new finish time record of 2:11:58 and clinched $30,000 cash prize.
Sanwo-Olu took off from the State House in Marina, jogging through highways to Eko Atlantic City; he covered 8km distance in 40 minutes.
The Governor teamed up with his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Minister for Sport and Youth Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shuaibu, Lagos Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), Shola Aiyepeku, and LSSC Director-General, Gafaar Bolowotan, among other top functionaries, to participate in the symbolic flag-off.
The marathon is an elite-labeled athletic fiesta held in second weekend in February of every year in Lagos and draws participation from local and international teams in the athletic ecosystem. It kicked off at 6am.
Sanwo-Olu said the event had consistently placed Lagos on the global radar, noting that the sporting fiesta had become a yearly ritual for athletes.
The Governor said the marathon embodied the spirit of Lagos, which teaches endurance, perseverance and resilience while toiling through physical strength.
He said: “One of the objectives of this event is to put Lagos on a global platform in the area of sport. Every year, new records are broken and the marathon gets bigger and better. As a Government, we are fully committed to sustaining this noble initiative and leading from the front to ensure that all participants, especially, our youths, get the best from this event.
“I acknowledge the great work which Access Bank and all other sponsors have put in to make this edition a success. The goal of the marathon is to use sport as a tool to promote physical fitness, togetherness, resilience and every virtue that can make human beings progress and live fulfilling life. This is the strongest rallying point for our youths and next edition would be better than what we have had this year.”
Sanwo-Olu pledged his Government would be relentless in raising the status of the marathon to a platinum-labeled event to attract more participants beyond Africa.
This, the Governor said, would open up the State’s economy for more foreign investment and boost tourism revenue for operators in the sector.
Sanwo-Olu said the decision of Kenyan Airways, a global aviation brand, to be part of the sponsors of the event this year indicated that the marathon would bring more tourism opportunities for Lagos if attained platinum level.
“We target the next two years to get this marathon to the platinum level, which means the event would be fully globalised. When this is achieved, every second weekend in February becomes calendarised for this marathon and Lagos would become a place to be and a destination for all sport enthusiasts,” the Governor said.
Presenting the prizes to the winners, Sanwo-Olu encouraged participants from Nigeria to brace themselves for first prizes in the next year’s edition.
Two Kenyans, David Barmasai and Naibe Emmanuel, finished as first and second runners-up in the male category, at 2:13:27 and 2:14:42 respectively. They got a cash prize of $20,000 and $15,000.
In the female category, Ethiopian marathoner, Dagne Siranesh Yirga, won the race at 2:33:50. She received $30,000 cash prize.
Alemenesh Herehaguta and Naomi Maiyo, both Kenyans, won $20,000 and $15,000 as first and second runners-up in the female category.
Spain Beat England 1-0 To Win First Women’s World Cup
Spain won the Women’s World Cup for the first time in their history with skipper Olga Carmona sweeping in the only goal for a deserved 1-0 victory over England in Sunday’s final.
In front of a crowd of nearly 76,000 at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Spain were the more accomplished side and had more chances, including missing a second-half penalty.
Spain’s triumph is vindication for Jorge Vilda and the Spanish football federation, who stuck with the coach even after 15 players last year said they no longer wanted to represent their country under him.
England coach Sarina Wiegman, who has now suffered back-to-back defeats in the final, and her European champions can have few complaints.
Spain are the fifth team to lift the World Cup since the tournament began in 1991, joining outgoing champions the United States, Germany, Norway and Japan.
In front of Spain’s Queen Letizia, defender Carmona scored what turned out to be the winner, rampaging from left-back to thrash the ball in low and hard on 29 minutes.
Wiegman had resisted the temptation to recall Chelsea attacker Lauren James after her two-match ban and kept faith with the team that beat co-hosts Australia 3-1 in the semi-finals.
Playing in their blue second kit, England had the first sniff of a chance in the fifth minute but Lauren Hemp shot weakly at goalkeeper Cata Coll.
There was little to choose between them in the opening exchanges before both teams had golden opportunities on the quarter-hour mark.
First, Manchester City forward Hemp struck the bar with a curler that had Coll well beaten.
Spain went up the other end and should have scored but Salma Paralluelo — in for Alexia Putellas — missed the ball in the six-yard box.
Then Alba Redondo hit a first-time strike straight at goalkeeper Mary Earps with the England goal gaping.
Hemp then had another tame effort saved, before the game was momentarily held up in the 24th minute when a spectator darted on to the pitch before being wrestled away by security.
Five minutes later Spain, who had never won a knockout game at the Women’s World Cup until this tournament and had lost 4-0 to Japan in the group phase, were ahead.
￼Spain’s forward #08 Mariona Caldentey (2L) and Spain’s midfielder #03 Teresa Abelleira (L) celebrate after Spain scored their first goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women’s World Cup final football match between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 20, 2023. (Photo by Izhar KHAN / AFP)
Mariona Caldentey slid in an inch-perfect pass for Carmona, who came flying unmarked down the left before lashing the ball into the bottom corner.
Vilda, who recalled three of the 15 mutineers for the World Cup, did not even raise a smile on the sidelines.
England looked uncharacteristically rattled and the 19-year-old Barcelona attacker Paralluelo, who was a constant threat, shaved the post with the last kick of the half.
Wiegman, who suffered agony in the final four years ago when her Netherlands team lost 2-0 to the United States, made a double change at the break.
James and Chloe Kelly replaced Rachel Daly and Alessia Russo as Wiegman switched from a back-five to a flat back-four.
But it was Spain who nearly doubled their lead almost straight after half-time, Caldentey dinking inside and forcing Earps to turn the ball around the post.
Hemp was booked for clipping Laia Codina as England’s frustration mounted.
Midfield schemer Aitana Bonmati, who has been one of the players of the tournament and was one of the three refuseniks recalled by Vilda, fired narrowly over Earps’s bar.
With 20 minutes left, Spain were awarded a penalty when VAR was called into action and, after a long review, Keira Walsh was judged to have handled the ball in the box.
Jennifer Hermoso stepped up but her penalty was weak and Earps saved comfortably to keep England just about alive.
Officials indicated 13 minutes of injury time at the end, but if anything, it was Spain who looked the more likely to score as England’s dreams of a first World Cup melted away.
Spain Beat Sweden, Reach First Women’s World Cup Final
Olga Carmona’s stunning late strike gave Spain a 2-1 win over Sweden on Tuesday to propel them into the Women’s World Cup final for the first time in their history.
Spain’s thrilling victory at Eden Park sets up a showdown in Sydney on Sunday with either Australia or England, who meet in the other semi-final on Wednesday.
The semi-final in Auckland seemed to be drifting towards extra time before suddenly bursting to life when substitute Salma Paralluelo put Spain ahead with nine minutes left.
Rebecka Blomqvist equalised for Sweden in the 88th minute only for full-back Carmona, Spain’s captain, to score with a superb shot in off the underside of the crossbar from the edge of the box.
It has been a remarkable run for a nation who had never previously gone beyond the last 16 at a Women’s World Cup, and for a team who had been in disarray in the months leading up to the tournament.
Fifteen Spanish players told their federation last September that they no longer wished to be considered for selection, principally out of unhappiness with coach Jorge Vilda, and only three of them returned for this World Cup run.
While their dream of World Cup glory remains alive, Sweden are left with a familiar feeling after going so far at another major tournament before falling short.
This is the third time in four World Cups in which they have reached the semi-finals, only to lose on each occasion.
Peter Gerhardsson’s side also lost in the last four at the European Championship last year, having been beaten in the final of the Tokyo Olympics on penalties against Canada in 2021.
Vilda decided against handing a start to Paralluelo, after she came off the bench to score the winner in the quarter-final against the Netherlands.
Instead, he recalled Alexia Putellas and the reigning Ballon d’Or winner started for the first time since Spain were walloped 4-0 by Japan in the group phase.
The plan was clearly to dominate possession and make a more physically imposing Sweden do the chasing.
Spain had far more of the ball in the first half yet neither Putellas nor Aitana Bonmati were allowed the time and space to really influence the game.
The closest they came to breaking the deadlock was from long range, when Jennifer Hermoso laid the ball back to Carmona, whose shot whistled wide.
Sweden had taken the game to Japan in an impressive 2-1 win in the quarter-finals but they offered next to nothing here until suddenly they almost struck three minutes before half-time.
Nathalie Bjorn sent a hanging cross from the right to the back post for Fridolina Rolfo –- facing seven of her Barcelona club colleagues in the Spain starting line-up -– but her side-foot volley was saved by Cata Coll.
Vilda’s plan was clearly to save the pacy Paralluelo for when the Swedish defence was beginning to tire, and it was just before the hour mark that he turned to the former athlete.
Paralluelo took the place of Putellas, who has still not completed 90 minutes at this World Cup as she continues to recover from full fitness following a serious knee injury.
The substitute’s persistence almost brought the opener for Spain with 20 minutes left as she stretched to keep the ball in play following a cross by Hermoso, but Alba Redondo turned her cutback wide.
Paralluelo then struck with nine minutes of normal time remaining, showing a killer instinct to lash a shot low into the corner.
But Sweden did not give up, drawing level in the 88th minute thanks to two substitutes of their own.
Lina Hurtig had only just come on when she nodded down a cross for Blomqvist to fire home, raising the spectre of extra time once again.
But Carmona, the Real Madrid left-back, had other ideas as she clinched victory for Spain in style.
U20WC: Flying Eagles Crash Out To South Korea
Nigeria have bowed out of the 2023 U-20 World Cup after slumping to a 1-0 defeat against South Korea on Sunday.
The Flying Eagles enjoyed the earlier exchanges but failed to make them count in the quarter-final clash.
While the game ended barren after normal time, it only took South Korea five minutes into the extra time to head home the lone goal of the match.
Coach Ladan Bosso’s men dominated the game, especially in the first half and the latter part of the match. They had five corners in the first half, a credence to their dominance.
One of Nigeria’s earlier efforts in the game was via AC Milan’s star Victor Eletu. However, Kim Joonhong parried his shot away for a corner kick.
As the game wore on, the Flying Eagles continued to press for a goal but the South Koreans dealt with their threats. The first half ended with no team able to break the deadlock.
When the second-half hostilities began, Coach Bosso made some switches, throwing in fresh legs as the 2005 runners-up battled to get a goal.
Both sides grew into the game with South Korea opening up more unlike in the first half. However, none could find the net.
But when the game went into extra time, Choi Seok-Hyun needed just five minutes to head in the winner from a corner kick as he flicked the ball past Kingsley Aniagboso.
Nigeria were inches close to a leveller in the second half of extra time but Umeh Emmanuel’s effort at the edge of the box flew over the crossbar.
He had another opportunity to make amends. Again, his shot could only find the side net in the 120th minute.
South Korea held on in added time to seal their second win in three meetings over Nigeria at this level.
The Asians will now play Italy in the semi-finals of the competition taking place in Argentina.
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