[FILE] Nigerian gold medallists Tobi Amusan, Blessing Okagbare, Joy Udo-Gabriel and Rosemary Chukwuma celebrate after winning the women’s 4x100m relay during the 2018 African Senior Athletics Championship in Asaba. Photo: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP.
Olatoye, 4x400m mixed relay open bid for medals
Three Nigerian athletes, including sprinter, Rosemary Chukwuma, may miss their events following delay by United States Consulates to issue them visas to participate in the Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships, which begins today.
Chukwuma, a student in the U.S., was caught in the long wait for visa in Abuja, following her application to change to student status.
The quartet of Rosemary Chukwuma, Grace Nwokocha, Tobi Amusan and Tima Godbles gave Nigeria the 4x100m relay ticket to Oregon at the National Trials held in Benin City, Edo State, last month.
The Guardian learnt yesterday that Chukwuma, who gained her first international experience at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, where she won a bronze medal behind Team England and Jamaica, was still waiting for her visa as at yesterday evening in Abuja.
She also won a gold medal in the 4×100m relay at the 2019 African Games. That was a few months after she won triple gold at the Junior African Championships in Abidjan in both the 100m and 200m.
Chukwuma is among Nigerian athletes expected to run in the 100m heat events tomorrow at the championship. Another Nigerian athlete still waiting for U.S. visa in Abuja yesterday is 400m runner, Ella Onouvevwo.
All four Nigerian journalists accredited by World Athletes to the championship are yet to get U.S. visa. Hammer thrower, Oyesade Olatoye, and the 4x400m mixed relay team will open Team Nigeria’s bid for podium appearances today.
Olatoye, drawn in Group A of the qualifiers for the final, will be making history as the first Nigerian, man or woman, to compete in Hammer throw in the championships.
Last month in Mauritius, the 25-year-old won the Hammer title at the African Athletics Championships to become the first Nigerian woman to emerge African champion in the history of the championships.
Olatoye, will, however, need a miracle to progress further in the event, as she is lined up against athletes, who have been throwing over 70m consistently.
For the 4x400m team of Patience Okon-George, Imaobong Nse Uko, Sikiru Adeyemi, Dubem Amene and Nathaniel Samson, the World Championships presents another big stage to make history as the first mixed relay team to make the final of a global event after debuting at the Tokyo Olympics last year, exiting in the first round.
Nigeria is drawn in heat 1 of two first round heats and will run from lane three, sandwiched between Poland and U.S. Three teams will qualify automatically from the heat for the final, while two others with fastest losing times will join. The final will be held later today. The Nigerian team set a new 3:13.60 African in Tokyo last year.
Later today, the heats for the men’s 100m will hold with Favour Ashe, the reigning fastest man in Nigeria scheduled to run. Also expected to be in the line up will be reigning World U20 Champion, Udodi Onwuzurike.
The duo will be aiming to return Nigeria to the final of the blue ribband event 15 years after Olusoji Fasuba ran in the final in Osaka, Japan.
Nigeria will also be hoping to win more than the one medal Ese Brume won three years ago in Doha, Qatar. The last time the country won two medals was in 2013 in Moscow, Russia where Blessing Okagbare leapt to a silver medal in the long jump and a bronze medal in the 200m.
The country will also be seeking a first ever gold medal in the championships and will be relying on Brume, the only Nigerian still competing who has won medals at the World indoor and outdoor championships and at the Olympics as well as sprint hurdler, Tobiloba Amusan who has a 50-50 chance of not just making the podium this time around after two fourth placed finishes in Doha in 2019 and at the Olympics last year but also win the gold.
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