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Heptathlete Kemi Francis opens Nigeria’s African Athletics Championship medals chase

By Guardian Nigeria
08 June 2022   |   3:58 am
As the African Athletics Championship starts in Mauritius this afternoon, heptathlete, Kemi Francis, will open Nigeria’s chase for medals at the track of the Côte d’Or National Sports Complex in St Pierre. She will compete for the 100m hurdles in heptathlon.

As the African Athletics Championship starts in Mauritius this afternoon, heptathlete, Kemi Francis, will open Nigeria’s chase for medals at the track of the Côte d’Or National Sports Complex in St Pierre. She will compete for the 100m hurdles in heptathlon.

Not ranked as the favourite for the event, the 29-year old will be hoping to become the fifth Nigerian woman to mount the podium as African champion in the event after the quartet of Bella Bell-Gam (1979 as Penthatlon), Patience Itanyi (1998), Patience Okoro (2008) and Uhunoma Osazuwa, who set a new 6,153 points championship record six years ago in Durban, South Africa.

In Mauritius, Nigeria will be seeking to re-establish a dominance that saw her athletes win nine of the 14 gold medals on offer between 1984 and 2008 in the 100m for men and 12 of the 19 in the women’s version between 1979 and 2014.

Nigeria last won the gold medal in the men’s 100m in 2008 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where Olusoji Fasuba completed his hat-trick of wins to become the first and so far the only African man to win the blue ribband gold three consecutive times.

For the women, Blessing Okagbare ran a then 11.00s championship record to win Nigeria’s 12th and final gold medal in the event in 2014.

For Raymond Ekevwo, the reigning African Games 100m champion, who is spearheading Nigeria’s chase for the ultimate title in the event, this is the perfect opportunity to return Nigeria as African champion 12 years after Fasuba last did.

Junior international, Praise Ofokwu and Tima Godless will have the task of winning Nigeria’s 13th gold medal in the history of the championship.

In the sprint hurdles, Tobi Amusan is the favourite to retain the title she first won four years ago at the 21st edition of the Championship in Asaba, Delta state.

Nigeria has dominated the women’s sprint hurdles scene at the championship, winning 11 of the 21 gold medals offered so far.