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Nigerian athletes and their medal prospects in Doha

By Gowon Akpodonor
24 September 2019   |   4:09 am
A board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Olamide George is hopeful the nation would get as many as five medals in this year’s IAAF World Championships...

Chukwuebuka Enekwechi will represent Nigeria in the shot put event at the IAAF Championships in Doha.

A board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Olamide George is hopeful the nation would get as many as five medals in this year’s IAAF World Championships, which will begin in Doha, Qatar on September 27 and end on October 6.

At the event, 25 athletes will fly Nigeria’s flag at the renovated multi-purpose Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, George, a vice president in the AFN, said he was hopeful the athletes would do better than their previous outings, adding, “Some of our athletes have really done better this season and they should be able to give us medals in Doha.

“I have followed the progress made by Tobi Amusan in the 100m hurdles since last year. She is very consistent. Her problem is starting late from the block. If she has a fast start, and maintain her stride, I am sure Tobi will be able to get us a medal in Doha because she is among the best three athletes in hurdles event in the world at the moment.”

Amusan’s Personal Best of 12.49s and 12.51s, which she ran recently in Germany, is a medal contender.

The AFN vice president says sprinter, Blessing Okagbare should be able to give Nigeria a medal in Doha. “Okagbare is an experienced sprinter, who has ran against the best athletes at various times. I expect that she should be able to know their strength and weak points by now. Okagbare has shown this season that she is still among the best in the world.”

Okagbare has a 100m Season’s Best (SB) of 11.04s and 200m SB of 22.05s. She will be Nigeria’s sole representative in both events, and she would also lead the charge for the country in the women’s 4x100m.

George also spoke on the medal prospect of the male athletes. “I see our male team doing well in the 4x100m because some of them have really done well this season. Three of them have done sub-10s this season. If they are able to put their acts together, and with good baton exchange, I see them pulling a big surprise in the final.”

Divine Oduduru, who will compete in both the 100m and 200m, will hope to rekindle the form he showed at NCAA earlier in the season, which saw him getting close to the 100m African record. He won the NCAA title in the United States with a PB of 9.86s. Oduduru also holds the Nigerian Record (NR) of 19.73s in the 200m.

Another male athlete the AFN vice president is banking on in the relay event is Raymond Ekevwo, who won the 100m gold medal at the African Games in Morocco to become the 10th Nigerian to run a sub 10s with a PB of 9.96s.

“Ekevwo is strong and I want to see him at his best in Doha. As I said, if our athletes should have good baton exchange, they should be able to come home with a medal. I want to see coach Deji Aliu in the team to Doha because he has done well. I am not saying that Seun Ogunkoya is not good, but Deji should be in the team as well,” George stated.

The AFN vice president also sees North Cyprus-based long jumper, Ese Brume as another athlete who has a prospect of grabbing a medal for Nigeria in Doha. “Ese Brume has continued to thrill me in the long jump. If she is able to jump close to her PB of 7.05m, which she did in July, Brume should be on the podium in Doha,” George stated.

Among other achievements this season, Brume won the African Games long jump title in Morocco last month.

Team Nigeria will be going to Doha with a much more improved team from their last outing at the 2017 World Championships in London. This time, Nigeria is presenting a team with a mixture of experience and new athletes breaking through on the big stage.

For the first time in a long while, Nigeria has three teams competing in the Relays: men’s 4x100m, women’s 4x100m and 4x400m.

Nigeria is expected to go into the 4x100m men’s relay with Seye Ogunlewe, who has a personal best of 10.11secs, Raymond Ekevwo – 09.96secs, Divine Oduduru – 09.86secs, Usheoritse Itsekiri – 10.02secs, and Enoch Adegoke –10.12secs.

Abike Egbeniyi, Blessing Oladoye, Blessing Ovwighoadjebreis, Patience Okon-George and Favour Ofili will compete in the 4x400m.

To Olamide George, the 4x400m women’s team has a good chance of winning a medal in Doha. “Two of them, Ofili and Okon-George have ran 50.01 seconds this season and I am looking forward to see them make the podium in Doha.”

Another major medal contender for Nigeria is Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, who this year threw his second National Record in the Shot Put, setting a record of 21.80m. In less than two years, Enekwechi has won two continental titles and also got a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.

There are new entrants in the team. Chioma Onyekwere and Sade Olatoye will be competing in the women’s Discus and Shot Put events respectively.