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Nigeria may miss ‘red hot’ Oduduru, Amusan at Commonwealth Games


Divine Oduduru

There are strong indications that Team Nigeria may participate in this year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia without the services of foreign-based athletes, particularly those in the United States.

At the moment, U.S.-based Divine Oduduru is among the hottest sprinters in the world, going by his impressive displays at recent athletics events.

Oduduru went off the radar immediately after the Rio Olympics Games, where he ran a personal best 20.34 seconds in the men’s 200m heat to qualify for the semi-final, finishing very closely behind sprint legend, Usain Bolt.

He was admitted to the Texas Technology University in the United States on scholarship, and after an injury-plagued 2017, Oduduru opened the 2018 season with a time of 6.66s in 60m in January at the Corky Classics. On February 2, he ran a new indoor Personal Best of 20.49s to win the 200m at the Texas Tech Track & Field Red Raider Invitational, and in the process beat a 20-year-old record in America.

Speaking with The Guardian in Lagos, former sprinter Enefiok Udo-Obong expressed doubts over the possibility of some U.S.-based athletes being available for Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

“I doubt if Oduduru and other athletes like Oluwatobiloba Amusan will be available for Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games,” Udo-Obong said.
“Maybe, Blessing Okagbare may come, but she won’t take part in the 100m and long jump events. She may be part of our 4x100m relay. I don’t know if Ese Brume will be available, but she needs the Commonwealth Games to build her athletics career again.”

Udo-Obong, an official of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), who won a gold medal in 4 x 400 metres relay at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, as well as a bronze medal at Athens 2004 Olympics, explained that the American school athletics system might prevent Oduduru from representing Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games.

However, some Nigerians have said that it would be painful for Team Nigeria to miss the services of Oduduru at the Commonwealth Games.

“I can’t imagine Team Nigeria missing the services of Oduduru and Oluwatobiloba Amusan at the Commonwealth Games. Where will our medals come from in athletics,” one athletics buff asked yesterday.

While Oduduru is Nigeria’s brightest male sprinter at the moment, Amusan is the nation’s biggest female hurdle. She is currently Africa’s No 1 female hurdler. Amusan’s Personal Best is now ranked number two on the 2018 world list, number two on the all-time list in Africa and Nigeria, which is just behind Gloria Alozie’s African and Nigerian ranking. She ran a sub-13 seconds at the World Championships last year.

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