Nigeria’s mixed relay team in good start, hits final
AFN Explains Why Akintola Was Dropped
The 18th World Athletics Championships began yesterday at the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, USA, with Nigeria’s 4x400m mixed relay team grabbing a final ticket in first event of the day.
The team, which made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics last year, and exited in the first round, placed fifth in their race yesterday in 3mins,14 seconds, but advanced to the final after the second heat produced a poor result.
Sandwiched between the reigning Olympic champion, Poland, in lane two and USA in lane four, Team Nigeria began well with Nathaniel Samson running a good race in the first leg. He handed the baton over to Patience Okon-George, who handed to Dubem Amene. Then, Nigeria was fourth, but Amene was able to cut into the third position before handing the baton to Imaobong Nse Uko, who ran a rather slow time to anchor at 3mins, 14seconds (fifth position) in the race won by USA. The Netherland was second, Poland third and Italy finished fourth. Team Great Britain finished sixth.
The final of the 4×400 mixed relay was scheduled for 12.50 am Nigeria time, (Saturday), 7.00pm time in Oregon.
Meanwhile, officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), have washed their hands off the failure of two Nigerian athletes, Alaba Akintola and Ezinne Abba to be part of the World Championship in Oregon.
The two athletes had vehemently spoken out against their ‘unjust’ exclusion from the World Championships, accusing the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare and the AFN of bias and incompetence.
While Akintola was never included in Team Nigeria’s roster to Oregon despite making the qualification marks, Ezinne is more pained having been previously listed and only allegedly dropped 40 minutes before boarding her flight to Oregon.
An official of the AFN explained in a chat with The Guardian yesterday that the decision to drop Akintola was purely the recommendation of a four-man committee set up by the Director, Federation Elites and Athletes Department, Dr Simon Ebohjaiye to monitor the level of compliance by the athletes regarding their Out of Competition Test (OCT) for Oregon 2022.
“When you tell our athletes to provide, they don’t like to comply. We got information on Akintola towards the end of May, and he was tested in early June. But he couldn’t meet up with the required number of test expected of him, and the four-man committee recommended he should be dropped to avoid embarrassment at the World Championship. In a country of over 60 athletes, only two did not complete their test. To me, that is good effort.
The athletes should stop blaming the sports minister,” the official stated.