Amusan hits Texas to boost Team Nigeria’s Tokyo Olympics relay chances
The arrival of sprint hurdler Tobiloba ‘Tobi’ Amusan on Monday boosted Team Nigeria’s camp in Texas as the team resumes its quest for tickets to the five relay events at the Tokyo Olympics at the 2021 USTAF Invitational meeting on Tuesday in Prairie View, Texas.
Amusan who ran 12.62 seconds to come second in the 100m hurdles event at the adidas Boost Boston Games in Boston, on Sunday, behind world record holder Kendra Harrison (12.49s), is expected to participate in the women’s 4x100m event, which Nigeria has provisionally qualified for with the 43.05s the quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Blessing Okagbare, Mercy Ntia-Obong and Rosemary Chukwuma ran at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Athletics Federation of Nigeria officials feel the presence of Amusan, who holds a personal season’s best of 12.48 seconds in the 100m hurdles, will make up for the absence of Okagbare.
Two of the athletes who ran 43.05s seconds two years ago in Doha, Udo-Gabriel and Chukwuma, are in the team that will run tonight in Texas with the addition of the second fastest Nigerian in the 100m event so far this term, Grace Nzube Nwokocha (11.09s).
The team will be hoping to run inside 43 seconds for the first time since 2018 when the quartet of Udo-Gabriel, Okagbare, Amusan and Chukwuma ran 42.75 seconds to pick the bronze medal at that year’s Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia.
A sub-43 seconds run will not only catapult the team above Brazil, who are currently ranked 15th, it will also make Nigeria’s position unassailable and guarantee qualification.
Team Nigeria will also be competing in three other relay events at tonight’s invitational. The events are the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m as well as the women’s 4x400m.
Nigeria is ranked just a step outside the 16th qualification spot in the men’s 4x100m and the women’s 4x400m, with the men needing to better the 38.47s Turkey holds and which has placed the European country on the last qualifying spot. Team Nigeria is ranked 17th with the 38.59s the team ran at the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
The women’s 4x400m team, led by Imaobong Nse Uko (51.70), the fastest U-18 400m runner in the world so far this term will also have to, for now, better the 3:30.02 ran by Dominican Republic in April to occupy the last qualifying spot.
Nigeria holds a 3:30.32 best from the 2019 African Games in Rabat but the team, without Favour Ofili and Amarachukwu Obi who are both unavailable due to their commitments to their respective US universities, will have to replicate the silver-winning 3:25.29 performance by the quartet of Patience Okon George, Glory Onome Nathaniel, Praise Idamadudu and Yinka Ajayi at the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be absolutely certain of picking one of the three available tickets to Tokyo.
The men’s 4x400m will also be in action and will be counting on the form of Edo 2020 National Sports Festival 400m champion, Chidi Okezie, who ran a new 45.60s lifetime best to win at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin.
The team has three sub-46 seconds runners and AFN officials are confident the quartet can break the 3.03:00 barrier and qualify for the event before the June 29 deadline for qualification.
The Nigerian 4x400m team last ran inside 3.03:00 at the 2012 African Athletics Championships.
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