Onitsha City Marathon, Breath of Fresh Air in Commercial City – Onyedum

By Jude Atupulazi

The choice of the commercial city of Onitsha for a marathon christened, Onitsha City Marathon, OCM, has been described as an event that will change the narratives of the city and the orientation for the residents.

This was stated by the chairman of the Anambra State Sports Development Commission, Chief Patrick Estate Onyedum, while speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the Race Partners at Onitsha recently.

Onyedum said that Onitsha, being a commercial city, would experience a breath of fresh air with the international marathon that would show that everything was not about money.

According to him, the 21 kilometers race will equally take the state to another level positively, as it would bring a turn-around in economy, connecting all the facets of development.

Chief Onyedum, a former athlete, charged the organizers to ensure team work, which, he said, was the ticket to any successful event.

While assuring of the state government’s support, he called on good spirited individuals to support the organizers, noting that the event would place the name of the state on the global map.

This comes as the promoters of the second edition of the Onitsha City Marathon have unveiled three partners with a budget proposal of not less than N1billion for the project ahead of the September 30, 2023, 21km race in the commercial hub of Anambra State.

The partners of the project unveiled, Friday July 21, at the premises of the Onitsha Business School are: Afia TV, as broadcast rights owners, Y&T Sports as a technical partner and GLS Project as marketing partner.

Philip Balepo, a veteran sports journalist and one of the promoters of the marathon, while introducing the partners, said that Afia TV was owned by former NBC Director General, Emeka Mba; while GLS Project was owned by renowned FIFA players’ licenced agent, John Shittu, who also managed former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel; Liberian football icon, now president, George OpongWeah; and another foremost Nigerian footballer and ex-Super Eagles captain, Joseph Yobo.

For his part, Professor Segun Segbosan, the Director at Onitsha Business School, the organiser of the Onitsha City Marathon, said the marathon race was organised as a prelude to the Ofala Festival of the Igwe of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Agbogidi of Onitsha.

Segbosan said unlike the 2019 Edition, this year’s edition had enjoyed the backing of the Anambra State Government.

He said the competition was aimed at putting Onitsha in front of the sporting world, stressing that the organisers would stop at nothing in delivering the best Marathon known to History.

His words, ‘Besides, we have decided to encourage Anambra Indigenes in the race, To this end, 10 Anambra or Onitsha citizens to finish the race will be rewarded as the race will produce no fewer than 10 millionaires.’

The Deputy Project Manager of the event, Philip Balepo, said the organisers would from July 22, commence a sensitisation exercise for the OCM within Onitsha from the Chuba Ikpeazu and the Achebe stadiums.

Balepo hinted that 50 viewing centres would be provided within the state during the race to ensure that all citizens of the state got an opportunity to watch the race even without being present at the starting point, end point or even within the routes of the race.

In his speech, the representative of the Obi of Onitsha on the occasion, Chief Obiora Etukokwu, hailed the Onitsha Business School for its initiative in projecting Onitsha positively and said the palace and citizens of Onitsha looked forward with pride and expectation to the race, describing the project as their own.

The marketing partner, GLS Projects, represented by Seun Olayiwola, assured that funding the project would not be a problem.