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Oduduru will run faster time at Tokyo Olympics, says Ogba

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Former President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Solomon Ogba, has described as ‘heart warming’ the 20.38 seconds race by Divine Oduduru at Istvan Gyulai Memorial meeting in Budapest, Hungary.

Oduduru, who travelled from his base in the United States on Sunday, competed a few hours after arrival in Budapest. It was his first race since May 31 this year. In Budapest, the Nigeria’s 200m record holder looked to be coasting home after leading for all of 150m until South Africa’s Akani Simbine came from behind and ran past him to win the 200m race at 20.25 seconds. Oduduru was third in 20.38 seconds.

Ogba, who is the first vice president of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC), commended Oduduru for the feat, saying: “I am very optimistic he (Oduduru) will run a faster time in Tokyo. This is his first race since May, and we are very impressed considering the fact that he travelled a long distance from the U.S. and competed soon on arrival. Let us not count our chicks before they are hatched, but I see Oduduru running better than he just did when we get to Tokyo. Oduduru lost to Simbine in Budapest because he suffered jet lag,” Ogba stated.

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Oduduru ran inside 20 seconds (19.88) two months ago, and is one of the top athletes Team Nigeria is banking on for medals in Tokyo. He lost in the semifinal stage five years ago in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil where he made his Olympics debut.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Akani Simbine is the new king of speed in Africa following his sensational 9.84 seconds run to win in Budapest, Hungary on Tuesday.

Simbine’s time is a hundreth of a second faster than the 9.85 seconds Nigeria’s Olusoji Fasuba ran in 2006 in Doha, Qatar.

In another development, Nigeria’s sprinter, Blessing Okagbare ran a new 10.89 Personal Season’s Best in Hungary, while shot putter, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi came fourth in his event in his first competition in the European circuit this year.

Okagbare could not race past two Jamaicans, 2016 Rio Olympics double sprint champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah (10.71) and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (10.82), as well as fellow African, Cote d’Ivoire’s Marie-Jose Ta Lou, who ran 10.86 seconds to place third.

Okagbare won the event in 2016 and 2017 but faced her biggest test ever at the event on Tuesday.

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