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Nigerian athletes who could break Fasuba’s 14-year-old African record

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For 14 years, the African record of 9.85 seconds set by former Nigerian sprinter, Olusoji Fasuba, at the Doha Grand Prix has remained unbroken despite several efforts by some young sprinters to lower it.
 
Fasuba, who hails from Ekiti State, broke Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks’ old record of 9.86 seconds in 2006, 10 years after Fredericks established it in 1996.

Fasuba came at a time Nigerian athletics was in a dare need of a top sprinter. Then, Seun Ogunkoya and Deji Aliu were already out of the picture, with Uchenna Emedolu the only relevant sprinter still flying the national flag high.
 
A red-hot Fasuba dominated the scene, winning medals in both indoor and outdoor meets until 2008. He shocked Nigerians by his decision to retire early at a time many athletics lovers were looking forward to seeing him produce more records on the track. And for 14 years, the likes of Ogho-Oghene Egwero  and Seye Ogunlewe have battled without success to upturn Fasuba’s record.
 
However, some stakeholders believe the record could fall any time from now, if the COVID-19 Pandemic could allow the athletes, particularly four Nigerian sprinters, continue from where they stopped last season.

Divine Oduduru
The U.S.-based Nigerian track and field sprinter holds a Personal Best of 9.86 seconds in the 100m and a Nigerian national record of 19.73 seconds in the 200m.

Last year, Oduduru, a two-time NCAA Champion, won the 100m title for the first time in his career with a 9.86 seconds return, which tied the world lead at the time, went sub-10 and sub-20 seconds on the same day on three separate occasions, which has never been done before. He also helped 4×100 relay to a third-place finish with the school record of 38.45 seconds.
 
He owned the world’s fastest time in the 200m at 19.76 (+0.8) earlier in 2019 at Baylor’s Michael Johnson Invitational in April for a school record and the second-fastest time ever run by a collegiate. At the same meet, he broke the 10-second barrier for the first time in his career, running a 9.94 (+0.8), also a school record.
 
Oduduru went sub-10 again a month later at the Big 12 Championships at 9.99 seconds, becoming the first in conference meet history to do so while defending his title. He also ran the second leg of a 4×100 relay that set a school-record and a conference-meet record of 38.83seconds. Those were his Outdoor records last year.
 
For his 2019 Indoor season, Oduduru competed in six meets for the Red Raiders, held the world lead in the 200m at 20.08 seconds, which was set at the Big 12 Championships and lasted throughout the whole indoor campaign.He also won the conference title in the 60m with a personal-best 6.52seconds. The Nigerian was a staple in the Red Raider 4×4 relay, which cracked the programme’s top-10 at the Texas Tech Classic after running a 3:05.81 seconds.
 
Born in Ughelli, Delta State, Oduduru was five times an African Junior Champion, 200-meter World Junior Silver Medalist, 2016 Rio Olympic 200-meter Qualifier and semi-finalist.

Raymond Ekevwo
At the 2019 African Games in Rabat, Morocco, Ekevwo became the first Nigerian sprinter to win the 100 metres title since 2007.Team Nigeria had listed Divine Oduduru for the 100 metres, but he didn’t arrive in Morocco on time, paving the way for Ekevwo to take his slot. He did not disappoint. On the day of the 100m final, Ekenvwo powered to the finish line in 9.96 seconds, ahead of Cote d’Ivoire’s Arthur Cissé, who finished in 9.97 seconds.
 
On his way to the final, Ekevwo was unbeaten through the rounds, as he recorded the overall fastest time of 10.20 seconds in the heats, as well as winning the semis in 10.26 seconds. This personal best made him the second Nigerian to run the 100 metres in under 10 seconds in 2019, after Oduduru.

Usheoritse Itsekiri
No doubt, Itsekiri is one of the few athletes in Nigeria that has successfully moved from the youth to senior ranks. It has always been his dream to become a Global Champion in the sport. He represented Team Nigeria at the 2015 African Youth Championships in Mauritius, and 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.
 
After obtaining his Engineering degree from the University in 2016, he decided to focus fully on Athletics. In 2017, he became the 100m National Junior Champion and was a finalist at the World Championships trials where he placed fifth.
 
Last year marked his debut season as a senior athlete, making the team to the Commonwealth Games as part of the 4x100m relay quartet that got to the final of the Championship.
 
In the build up to the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Itsekiri ran a Personal Best time in the 100m during a championship in Germany to make IAAF Worlds Standard.

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Itsekiri ran an inspiring 10.07 seconds (+1.7mps tail wind) to come first in the 100m event at the Rehlingen Leichtathletik meeting 2019 in Germany.
That was what gave the Nigerian the qualification standard for the IAAF Worlds in Doha. The time was also a huge personal best for the athlete, who improved his personal best to 10.27 seconds at the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja.

Enoch Adegoke
Nigeria announced a new sprints sensation to the world at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, when Enoch Adegoke stunned more experienced athletes to win his Heat in a Personal Best (PB) of 10.19s. He followed it up with a 10.24s win in the semis.
 
That made him the first and perhaps youngest Nigerian to get to the men’s 100m finals of the Commonwealth Games since 2002.He achieved the feat on his first international outing for Team Nigeria.
 
In 2017, the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) undergraduate announced himself to Nigerian sprints circuit when he ran a Personal Best (PB) of 10.40s to close the season with the fourth fastest time ran by a Nigerian.
 
Then at 18, Adegoke running in his first international competition for Nigeria, became the country’s sprints revelation at the Games, clocking a massive PB of 10.19s to win his Heat before going on to win his Semis against more established world-class athletes.

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