Prosper Ekporere Aims To Break World Records After Benin National Triumph
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United States-based Nigerian hurdler, Prosper Oghenemine Ekporere, surprised himself and the spectators at the just-concluded national trials in Benin City, when he posted a Personal Best time of 13.66 seconds to win the men’s 110m hurdles.
After injuring himself at the beginning of the year, which prevented him from training, Ekporere’s season eventually began in June.
The student of Liberty University, Virginia, U.S. said shortly after winning the men’s hurdles event at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, that his biggest motivation was Tobi Amusan’s World Record feat at last year’s World Championships in Oregon.
After Amusan retained her national 100m hurdles title on Day 1 of the championships, attention shifted to the men’s 110m hurdles event on Day 2. Ekporere did not disappoint the spectators, as he delivered the performance of his life to claim his first ever-national title.
The 20-year-old sprint hurdler displayed absolute brilliance in the final of the event, scaling past every hurdle with ease to clock a new Personal Best (PB) time of 13.66 seconds, which fetched him the crown ahead of his strongest rival, Wisdom Musa.
He had earlier shown signs of what to expect in the heats on Wednesday, which he easily won with a time of 13.83 seconds, the fastest time in the two heats. Musa won the other heat clocking 13.92 seconds.
This is the former junior athlete’s first national title, and it is a huge improvement from his results from the Championships last year, where he placed fourth in the final with a time of 14.02s.
Interestingly, Ekporere’s time in Benin City was the fastest ever by a student of Liberty University over the 110m hurdles.
“My season did not go as planned at the beginning of the year,” he revealed. “I was injured then, and having a good performance here at the national trials was an improvement.
“Everybody counted me out this season, but I trusted in God. I believe in Him at all times and everything I do I put God first. Throughout the indoor season and the beginning of the outdoor season, I was injured in March. And by April, I was still recovering. So, to start running again was like a tough journey, but coming in here to do a Personal Best of 13.66 seconds is a big break for me.”
Ekporere is now banking on God to keep him healthy saying: “Next season, I am sure of launching myself into the big league of world athletics. My goal this season is to put up a good mark, and then next season, come up with something much better. We have the African Games and Olympics in Paris next year. I would be glad to make the team and of course, go out there and put up my best performance.”
The young athlete, who was discovered at the Government College Ughelli (GUC) Relays, mentored by former hurdler, UK-based Moses Oyiki, said he was happy to be surrounded by people pushing him on to greater things. They include Amusan, Oyiki and Hosanna David.
He said; “When Tobi Amusan broke the World Record last year, it was a motivation for me because I look up to her, and she is someone who looks after me. She always asked me about my races.
“I told myself that since Tobi got the Record, I want to be the next big hurdler out of Nigeria and Africa to break the World Record. It may take time and it is going to take a process to get to the top. Amusan also went through that process also with time and trials, which I am prepared to embrace.”
Ekporere stated that the National Record of 13.27 seconds, which was set in 2016 by Antwon Hicks, in Warri, is his yardstick. He is eyeing the mark.
“Records are meant to be broken. Those records have been there for a long time. Now, my coach and I are eying the national record. Next year, I get to train harder, and by the Grace of God, my legs will do the talking,” Ekporere stated.
By Gowon Akpodonor