This bodes well for the Sierra Leone Athletics Association (SLAA) which till the latter part of this year had been wallowing in internal conflicts and other issues that had basically paralyzed it’s operations.
Neighboring countries; The Republic of Guinea and Liberia sent contingents of their national Athletes to compete against Sierra Leone’s best which made for a must-see event for fans of the sport both at home and overseas who had been clamoring and hungering to not just see the sport reemerge but see Athletics as a sport thrive in the region.
After some much anticipated clashes in the two days of qualifying action, fans could not wait to see who was going to emerge in several categories of events with much talked about rivalries.
There was the much-expected clash between sprinters Ishamail ‘Dudu’ Kamara and Vivian ‘Skinny’ Williams and that of Dolly Mustapha and Fatmata Koroma of Makeni as well as that of Quarter-milers Alford Conteh (Salone Van Niekerk) and Bockarie Sesay.
With end to end coverage of the event by this Media house (African Sports Media Network (African Sports Monthly & African Sports TV)) by our resident Photojournalist Zack Kamara and Reporter Magdalene Konneh the anticipation and tension was evident for the final day of competition around the world as fans wrote personal messages thanking our team for giving the event live coverage through photos and Result reporting.
The 2017 Boxing Day event was filled with excitement and festiveness as the first set of events took off with a bang as Alhaji Maksoud Bangura of Camp Unity Track Club Came around the turn to the homestretch in the 400 meters Hurdles to win with an impressive time of 53.41 seconds followed closely by Aruna Aaron Sesay of the Kings and Queens Track Club with a time of 53.97 seconds. Aruna Aaron Sesay will follow his Silver Medal performance in the 400 Hurdles with a Gold medal winning performance in the 110 Hurdles which he took quite handily with a time of 14.66 seconds.
Closely on the heels of the 400 Hurdles was the Women’s 100 meters Hurdles where the defending Champion Isfamaka Kargbo was hoping to retain her title but that was not meant to be as she was disqualified for beating the gun in the start and with that we saw the emergence of a new champion in Fatmata Koroma of Makeni who ran past the finish line with a time of 15.67 seconds.
Fatmata Koroma who won the 100-meter Dash in the last National Championships held in Freetown in late September (2017) had a very busy day and date with her key rival Dolly Mustapha in the 100 meters which was one of the most highly anticipated event. But the day would not end a favorable one for Fatmata in the sprints because this time around Dolly Mustapha would go on to beat her resoundingly and become the new national 100 and 200 meters champion with a time of 11.28 seconds in the 100 meters and 23.29 seconds in the 200 meters.
The Men’s Sprints showdown; the most anticipated event for the day with fans buzzing about whether Ishamail ‘Dudu’ Kamara from Makeni and now perennial national sprint champion for the last 4 years would once again go on to dominate his rivals, not only won the 100 meters he did it with a new Personal best time of 10.13 seconds and the 200 in 21.29 seconds. His Key rival Vivian ‘Skinny’ Williams was beaten into third place this time around by a teammate of his at the Kings and Queens Track Club by the name of Sahid Othman. Othman clocked the race with a time of 10.19 seconds; a new personal best as well with Vivian coming in third with a time of 10.22 seconds.
The 400 meters for women was won by Annemarie Labour with a time of 55.86 seconds and the much-anticipated rivalry between the young gun Sprinter Alford Conteh and veteran Bockarie Sesay was a one-sided affair with Alford Conteh from Makeni dominating the race from start to finish winning with a time of 47.59 seconds followed by Ibrahim Kallon from the Camp Australia Track Club with a time of 48.57 seconds.
Vivian Williams whose day did not go as anticipated, would eventually redeem himself in the end with a spectacular final leg for the Kings and Queens Track Club in the 4x100 meters relay which they won over the Northern Region team.
The Men’s and Women’s 800 meters went to Ibrahim Turay with a time of 1:57.25 and Mariana K Conteh of Camp Canada Track Club with a time of 2:11.32.
The 2017 and 91st Edition of the Boxing Day Track & Field Championship has been seen by many around the world as a shot in the arm for the revival of a sport that once captured the imagination of Sierra Leoneans. The next edition promises to be even better and will potentially involve several nations outside of the Republic of Guinea and Liberia who participated this time both within and outside of Africa. It is an event well situated for those in the Southern Hemisphere who are within competition season and for those in the Northern Hemisphere who are at the cusp of the start on their indoor campaign, and what better place to get things off the ground than this event which could serve as a test and place to get a good winter season workout.
By Leslie Koroma Sr.