AFN sure of good outing as World U20 Athletics Championship begins in Cali
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), yesterday, promised that the nation’s athletes would have a great performance at the 2022 World U-20 Athletics Championships, which began yesterday in Cali, Colombia.
At the last edition of the championship in Nairobi, Kenya, Nigeria’s U-20 track and field athletes set a new record in the country’s participation in the event, finishing third on the medals table with an unprecedented four gold and three bronze medals.
The four gold medals won in Nairobi remain the highest Nigeria has ever achieved in any edition of the championships.
A team of 19 home-based athletes and five coaches departed Lagos last week for Cali, Colombia.
AFN secretary, Adeniyi Beyioku, told The Guardian that all the athletes were in high spirit, adding that they are eager to surpass the achievement in Nairobi.
This year’s World U-20 Athletics Championship will end on August 6.
At the last edition in Nairobi, Nigeria’s 4x400m mixed relay team began the unprecedented haul with its historic, championships record-setting performance (3:19.70 CR) on an opening day. It was followed by the gold medal by the fastest U-17 quarter-miler in the world, Imaobong Nse Uko, in the women’s 400m with a new 51.55 seconds personal best.
The win made Uko the fourth Nigerian woman to win the event after Fatimah Yusuf (1990), Bisi Afolabi (1994) and Folashade Abugan (2008).
Another gold medal from United States-based speed star, Udodi Onwuzurike, gave Nigeria the third gold in the men’s 200m, where he also set a new 20.21seconds personal best.
The half-lap gold was Nigeria’s second since Francis Obikwelu won it in 1996 to complete his sprint double in Sydney, Australia.
Coaches in the trip to Cali are Ayodele Solaja, Isiaka Saka Oluyemi, Rachael Oguntona and John Micah.
It was not clear yesterday if AFN’s head coach, former sprinter, jumper and hurdler, Seigha Porbeni, was able to join the athletes, as his initial travel plan was aborted on Sunday night due to flight hitches.
Apart from the 19 home-based athletes, who departed Abuja on Friday, two Nigerian stars joined the camp from the United States.