One of Nigeria’s best middle and long distance runners, Lawrence Osheku says he is ready to mingle with the big boys on the road at the 3rd Okpekpe 10km road race next month in Okpekpe, Auchi, Edo state.
Osheku emerged the best Edo state-born athlete in the first two editions of the IAAF-sanctioned road race and believes he is ready to step up and challenge the East Africans when the third edition holds on May 16.
“My training is going on well and I believe I can improve on my time.Last year I ran 34.10 to emerge the best Edo state-born athlete at the event but I feel I can improve to at least 31 minutes which should be enough to put me in the top 10 in the race”, said the younger brother of respected athletics coach,Tony Osheku.
Osheku is convinced he can replicate the form that made him run 31 minutes two years ago in a 10km road race in Lagos.
“I believe if I run a good sub-32 minutes, I will emerge the best Nigerian in the race and give the Kenyans,the Ethiopians and other East African runners expected at the race a real scare.
“Last year Sadjo (Ismail) ran 31.18 to emerge the best Nigerian in the race and the 10th best overall. My target is to at least beat that time”, he insists and his brother concurred.
“I think it’s time for Lawrence to step up now that he’s almost fully fit.Injuries have not been kind to him in recent years but I am confident he can become the first Nigerian to break 30 minutes at the distance.
“He has the talent and he loves to train”, said the elder Osheku who coached Falilat Ogunkoya to two Olympic medals,an IAAF World indoor medal and the 400m African record.
The elder Osheku also hailed Pamodzi owner, Mike Itemuagbor for organising an event that has not only attracted attention of the world to his dear state but also the world governing body for track and field,the IAAF.
“He (Itemuagbor) deserves all the praises.The Okpekpe race is now an IAAF labelled race (bronze label),one of the two or three in the African continent.
“This is good for the development of the sport in Nigeria”, said Osheku,himself a former national middle distance champion.