Hope rises for women’s 4x100m relay team as France ‘suffers’ setback
A window for hope may have been opened for Nigeria’s women’s 4x100m relay team to be part of the party at the forthcoming Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships. This comes after their initial exclusion from the race due to Blessing Okagbare’s additional one-year drug suspension by World Athletics.
On Monday evening, many athletics-lovers got a rude shock, as the additional one-year ban on Okagbare knocked off all individual and relay results she was involved in from June 13, 2021. The decision pushed Team Nigeria’s women 4x100m relay team down to 17th position. This allowed Canada to take the last qualification spot in the women’s 4x100m relay line up in Oregon.
However, a new twist occurred, yesterday morning, as one of the countries on the qualified list, France, was said to have suffered a setback.
An official of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) told The Guardian yesterday that France women’s 4x100m relay team was ‘depleted.’
“We just got this news that France women’s 4x100m relay team is depleted, and may not be able to attend the championships in Oregon. As things stand, our women’s 4x100m relay may be in Oregon in July.”
The AFN official did not expatiate on the nature of ‘depletion’ suffered by the French team, but he explained that the ban on Okagbare may no longer stop the Nigerian squad.
“The additional one-year ban on Okagbare only affected results she was involved in our relay team from June 13, 2021. The ban did not affect past results of our women’s 4x100m relay team. That is why Nigeria is occupying the 17th position on World Athletics’ list. If France is depleted, then Nigeria is in for Oregon 2022 and that is a good news for Team Nigeria.”
The Guardian recalls that officials of the AFN were in joyous mood on Wednesday following confirmation that the country has officially qualified for two other relay events, including the men’s 4x100m.
Apart from the Men’s 4x100m relay squad, Nigerian athletes will also compete in the 4x400m Mixed Relay, a ticket they secured a year ago during the Olympic Games in Tokyo with a time of 3:13.60 seconds.
The quartet of Favour Ashe, Godson Brume, Alaba Akintola and reigning World U-20 champion, Udodi Onwuzurike, stormed to a season’s best time of 38.35 seconds at the just concluded National Trials in Benin City, Edo State, to pick the 4x100m ticket to Oregon.
The winning time saw Nigeria leapfrog South Africa into the 16th position, which is the last qualifying spot for the World Championship slated for July 15 to 25 in the United States.