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Only athletes with medal prospects will represent Nigeria in Mauritius, says Okowa

By Gowon Akpodonor
28 April 2022   |   4:23 am
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) will today begin selection of athletes for the 22nd African Senior Championships holding in Mauritius.

Nigeria’s Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha reacts prior to competing in the women’s 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photo: AFP

• Athletes begin trials today in Lagos

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) will today begin selection of athletes for the 22nd African Senior Championships holding in Mauritius.

In 2018, Nigeria hosted the last edition of the African Senior Athletics Championships in Asaba, Delta State, finishing third on the medals table with nine gold, five silver and six bronze medals behind Kenya (11, 6, 2) and South Africa (9, 14, 8).

AFN President, Tonobok Okowa, said only athletes with medals prospect would be picked for the trip. Already, the best of Nigeria’s athletes have gathered in Lagos for AFN’s second All Comers competition of the year, which will hold at the Yaba College of Technology.

The two-day competition will serve as selection trials for home-based athletes that will fly Team Nigeria’s flag to Mauritius from June 8 to 12, 2022.

According to the programme of events released by AFN Secretary General, Adisa Adeniyi Beyioku, today’s events will begin with the 10,000 Race Walk final for women at 8.00 a.m. The men’s 10,000 Race walk final will follow at 8.05 a.m., while the women’s discus final, men’s high jump final, as well as the men and women’s 1,500m final will follow in that order.

The heat for men and women’s 100m, high jump for women, 100m hurdles (women), 110m hurdles (men) 400m for men and women, as well as hammer throw final for men and women will conclude the morning session.

The afternoon events will witness the final in the long jump (men), javelin (women), 400m hurdles (women), shot put (men), 400m hurdles (men), 100m women final B, 100m women final A, 100m men final B, 100m men final A and the long jump women’s final.

Among the events to be decided tomorrow are the 10,000m final for men, shot put final (women), triple jump final for men, javelin (men), 400m final (men and women), 200m final (men and women), 4x100m final (men and women) and 4x400m mixed final.

AFN Technical Director, Samuel Onikeku, explained, yesterday, that today’s AFN All Comers competition would also afford athletes wishing to participate in the African championship opportunity to achieve the qualification standard before the window closes on April 30, 2022.

He stated that the bulk of the team that will fly Team Nigeria’s flag in Mauritius would be home-based athletes. Onikeku said: “The incredible performances of Enoch Adegoke and Grace Nwokocha have given our home-based athletes and the coaches the confidence that they do not need to go abroad before they can secure qualification to global athletics championships and games.

“I remember it was at the Yabatech sports ground that Adegoke ran 10.00seconds in the 100m event to win the Nigerian championships. The time remains the fastest legal time ever ran on Nigerian soil by a home based athlete. In fact only Deji Aliu, the 1994 World Junior 100m champion has run faster (9.98s at the 2003 Nigerian Championships in Abuja).

“Nwokocha also ran 11.09s as a home based athlete last year and both she and Adegoke went to the Olympics in Tokyo to confirm their emergence as the next queen and king of the track in Nigeria,” Onikeku stated.

Some of the athletes to watch out for at the event include Praise Ofoku, the World U20 100m finalist and 4x100m bronze medal winner, who ran a new 11.49s personal best in the 100m event at the first AFN All Comers in Benin City last month.

Tima Seikeseye Godbless, a World U20 4x100m bronze medal winner is also one to watch out for, same as Ogheneovo Nicholas Mabilo, the 19-year-old, who improved his personal best twice from the 10.41seconds he ran at the Nigerian Championships last year first to 10.37seconds, and an impressive 10.24seconds in Benin last month.

Another teenager, Adekalu Nicholas Fakorede, also showed a bit of consistency, opening his season with 10.26s last month in Benin to equal his personal best he first set at the Nigerian Championships last year in Lagos.

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