By Amaechi Agbo
The date was October 17, 2020. The event was the first Opi marathon race. 14km race that involved youths in Opi, a very popular town in Nsukka Local Government, Enugu State, South East, Nigeria.
Like every other runner, they came. The Three sister from same family. And they had one mission: to take the race by storm. To make and create history. And they did not fail.
The day arrived; the runners arrived too. Everyone had same agenda, but these three sisters, from the same mother and father, had a different mission.
Like Saint Paul in the Bible, they set themselves apart for a great mission. The mission, certainly, did not start on the day of the race. They had their plans, and like a pregnant woman set for a long journey, they took off earlier.
On 17th October, 2020, the first marathon race was held in Opi, a renowned town in Nsukka Local Government, if not in Enugu State entirely.
The race was nurtured and organised by a young man from same town who felt the need to inculcate the essence of intense exercise in the minds of his people.
He told reporter before the event that “Look, our people are adding much weight. Obesity is a dangerous health situation that people do not know. As a result of the lockdown of the country due to the outbreak of Covid-19, a lot of people were indoors for weeks and months and the result was the accumulation of fats.”
Consequently, he came up with the race, the first of its kind in the community, if not in the state.
Like every other grassroots sport, it never falls short of expectations, glamour, thrills and drills and most importantly, discovering of gifted and talented runners.
The three sisters, Akudo Ugwuowo, Kasie Ugwuowo and Ngozi Ugwuowo, from same family, came first, second and fourth, in that order. And one interesting thing about these trio is the fact that their average age bracket is 23 years.
They came to the event with a mission to be champions and champions they became. Akudo, who took the first position, is a younger sister to Ngozi who came fourth. Ngozi is the eldest among the three while Kasie is the youngest.
Our reported who visited the sisters few days after the race, got first-hand information on how they prepared for the tournament, expectedly, without a coach.
He spoke with Akudo who won N10, 000 for finishing first on how they created the unlikely history.
“Well, we prepared for it. When we heard about the race, we started training. Every morning we will run from our home to Queen of the Rosary Secondary School (the initial end point of the race) and come back. We did it everyday. We would run without stopping. It was not easy but we did not give up.
“We would wake up around 5:30am, say our prayer and take off. It was really not easy but we persevered to the end,” he said.
On whether they planned it together to be champions, Akudo said they did not envisage becoming champions but they knew that their efforts would not go unrewarded.
She told our reporter that during their secondary school years, they took part in long runs such as 5000m and 10, 000m races.
“We did not plan to be champions of the race. We did our training because we have passion for it. It is something we are used to. There was never a time we said ‘look, we are going to win this.’ No. We did our private training knowing that at the end of the day, our efforts would pay off.
“My brother, we did not start running long distance race on that very day. We used to do it in our secondary school days. Then, we always took part in long races such as 5000m or 10, 000m,” she said.
Miss Akudo who appreciated the efforts of the organisers and commended them for the great job, said they will return next year to give retain their victory.