BEVERLY HILLS, May 14, (THEWILL) – The participation of Nigeria’s athletes at the track and field events of the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo continues to face fresh hurdles by the day. After 24 athletes missed the 2021 World Athletics Relays in Chorzow, Poland, due to visa bottlenecks, and 16 secured the opportunity to participate in the qualifier relay events in Texas, USA, the end is still not in sight for these athletes to get to Tokyo.
The reason is that even at the qualifying events currently ongoing in Texas, it has not been smooth-sailing for the Nigerian contingent.
Their participation at the relay events at the Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) Invitational in Texas on Wednesday was not productive due to absence of participating countries that were supposed to compete as some events, like the men’s Mixed 4x400m, viewed as not listed for the Olympics.
In the men’s 100m race, which is a strong forte for Team Nigeria in international meets, Jerry Jakpa (10.10 seconds), Enoch Adegoke (10.23 seconds) and Godson Oghenebrume (10.30 seconds) dusted six American clubs to make it a Nigerian 1, 2, 3 podium finish. Jakpa also ran to a strong finish off 20.91seconds to take second in the 200m race won by Fulks Kyle of Elite Performance Track Club in 20.89 seconds.
However, in more dislocation of the hopes of Nigeria’s participation in the Relay events at Tokyo, the trio of Ifeanyi Ojeli, Sikiru Adeyemi and Samson Nathaniel did not start in the men’s 400 metres race in Texas. Just as the duo of medal hopefuls, Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru, did not compete in Nigeria’s mixed relay events in Texas.
Another Nigerian Timothy Emoghene outran the only other two competitors to come out tops in 50.78 seconds in the Men’s 400m hurdles.
In the women’s 100m race, Grace Nwokocha, with a finishing time of 11.17 seconds came first ahead of contestants from American clubs and another Nigerian, Joy Udo-Gabriel, who took fifth with a time of 11.48.
The Women 4x400m Relay Team made up of Imaobong Nse Uko, Samson Nathaniel, Patience Okon-George and Sikiru Adeyemi, did however compete and won their race in a time of 3:18.53, to register the second fastest time ever run by an African country, only behind Kenya who holds the Area Record with 3:16.90.
But, it falls short of the cut as it only and brings Nigeria up to 21st in the bid to secure qualification for the Olympics. The athletes will have to run faster than Germany’s 3:16.85 for a shot at competing in the Relay events at the Tokyo Games.
Although the athletes will return to Texas on Tuesday, May 25 for another event, before their last relay event in the tour of U.S. on Saturday, May 29 in Florida, some Nigerian athletes listed for the trip and pencilled down to compete were still in their Royal Choice INN hotel in Abuja by Thursday, alongside coach Deji Aliu awaiting their visas.