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Team Nigeria set for first relay outing in Texas

By Gowon Akpodonor
12 May 2021   |   2:18 am
Team Nigeria is expected to appear in its first U.S. Relay tour today (May 12) at the Prairie View A& M University, Texas. According to information from the event organisers yesterday...

Team Nigeria’s Beatrice Utondu, Faith Idehen, Christy Opara-Thompson, and Mary Onyali celebrate after placing third in the final of the Women’s 4x100M relay final at Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic, in Barcelona, Spain. Nigeria’s women’s relay team will be seeking to qualify for the Tokyo Games. Photo by Bill Frakes / Sports Illustrated.

• Retired Nigerian athletes in U.S. angry with AFN as team miss Mt. SAC Relays • I have no comment, says Olamide George

Team Nigeria is expected to appear in its first U.S. Relay tour today (May 12) at the Prairie View A& M University, Texas. According to information from the event organisers yesterday, Team Nigeria is among the countries listed for the event, which entries closed on May 10. Entry fee for each athlete is $40.00, payable at the facility. The 4x100m relay will start at 3.00pm (U.S. time), while the 4x400m relay will hold at 5.30pm.

Team Nigeria’s next outing will be on May 18 at AP Ranch, Dallas, before another relay event scheduled for May 25 in Texas. Team Nigeria’s last relay event in the tour of U.S. will hold on May 29 in

The Guardian learnt yesterday that some Nigerian athletes also listed for the U.S. Relays are still in their hotel rooms in Abuja awaiting their visas. AFN Secretary, Niyi Beyioku, confirmed to The Guardian that the athletes would depart as soon as their visas were ready.

Among the athletes still waiting in Abuja are Alaba Akintola, who won the 200m gold medal at Edo 2020 National Sports Festival, and Seye Ogunlewe, who did not compete at the Sports Festival in Benin City.

Meanwhile, some former Nigerian track and field athletes based in the United States are angry with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) following the federation’s failure to register the country’s athletes in the Mt. SAC Relays held at the Hilmer Lodge Stadium, Walnut, California on Sunday. Team Nigeria, which is seeking relays qualifications for the Tokyo Olympics, missed the World Relays in Poland two weeks ago due to visa issues.

The Mt. SAC Relays, one of only two gold level competitions in the United States, was part of the 2021 USATF Grand Prix Series and it featured many of the world’s best track and field athletes on their road to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“Team Nigeria arrived here (U.S.) since last week, and we were looking forward to seeing our athletes compete in the Mt. SAC Relays, but it didn’t happen,” one ex-Nigerian athlete told The Guardian on phone yesterday. “It was so disappointing because the MT. SAC Relays is where everybody wants to be in the build up to the Olympics. It carries a lot of weight here, and it would have given Team Nigeria’s qualification bid a big boost.”

Another ex-athlete added: “I am sure the AFN has not been able to sort out things with the big athletes here in the U.S. for them to assemble a solid relay team. It was really disappointing not to see Team Nigeria at Mt. SAC Relays.”

Contacted yesterday, AFN factional President, Olamide George, who led Team Nigeria to the Relays tour of U.S. said: “I don’t have any comment.” Pressed further, he directed The Guardian to link up with AFN Media Officer, who is not part of the team to the U.S.

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