Esther Obiekwe, a member of a local road running club in Lagos supported by Eva Water has qualified to race in the prestigious Boston Marathon. The 34 year-old professional banker with Fidelity Bank Plc last week clocked 3hrs: 36mins at the 42km Dubai Marathon to improve on her previous time of 3hr: 49mins. She emerged the first Nigerian overall (male inclusive) to hit the finish line. Speaking at a brief ceremony to honour her at the Coca-Cola head office in Ikoyi yesterday, Jim Lafferty, the Managing Director of Nigeria Bottling Company Plc who is the trainer of the athlete said that Miss Obiekwe has in just under eight months transformed into a world-class marathoner.
“To put it (her performance) in perspective, only 0.1% of the world ever runs in a marathon. Just finishing one puts you in a unique group. To finish under 4 hours is something only 10% of runners ever do so. So she is in the top 10% of the top 0.1% of global marathoner. She is one of the only a few thousand women in the world to do this,” observed the former track & field coach in the United States of America.
Lafferty, who admitted being a part of the global Olympic family since Barcelona ’92, further painted a bright future for Obiekwe if she remains consistent in the sport she took to as a hobby.
The story of the banker who will fly Eva Colours and do Nigeria proud at the Boston Marathon next year remains an interesting one, coming into the sport purely out of sheer desire to stay trim and fit.
“I started running 10 years ago. I was never into track and field all through my secondary school and university days. It all started at a fitness club. I just realised I was doing a lot of running on the thread-mill without getting tired the way others do. I just started doing outdoor and was enjoying the fun.
“Even when I had to go to the UK for my MBA, I didn’t stop though lack of funds did not allow me to register in a club or gym, yet I continued to train when time allows,” revealed the banker, who competed and finished the 4th Nigerian lady in the 2nd Glo Lagos Half Marathon. She also finished second in the corporate marathon last year in addition to winning honours in the recently introduced Bankers’ Games.
Speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of the Coca-Cola Company Nigeria Limited, Islay Rhind commended Obiekwe’s resilience and tremendous dedication.
“It takes great discipline and a commitment to an active lifestyle to pull up this type of feat and we hope it instils determination and excellence in other Nigerians to embrace active lifestyle for good health,” concluded the Coca-Cola boss.