Twenty-four hours after Nigeria’s women’s 4x100m relay team was disqualified from Oregon 2022 World Athletics Championships due to Blessing Okagbare’s additional one-year drug ban, officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) were in joyous mood following confirmation that the country has officially qualified for two relay events, including the men’s 4x100m.
World Athletics officially confirmed Nigeria’s qualification for two, out of the five relay events for Oregon 2022, which holds from July 15 to 25 in the United States.
Apart from the Men’s 4x100m relay squad, Nigerian athletes will also compete in the 4x400m Mixed Relay event.
For the 4x100m event, Nigeria, against all odds, secured qualification from the just concluded National Trials in Benin-City, Edo State, where the quartet of Favour Ashe, Godson Brume, Alaba Akintola, and reigning World U-20 champion, Udodi Onwuzurike, stormed to a Season’s Best Time of 38.35 seconds on an opening day.
The winning time saw Nigeria leapfrog South Africa into the 16th position, which is the last qualifying spot for the World Championships.
Just before the National Trials ended in Benin City on Sunday, news filtered into the stadium that Liberia had done a better time to push Nigeria from the 16th spot. It sparked apprehension among the athletes and their coaches.
But it has turned out to be mere speculation, following the confirmation by the World Athletics of Nigeria’s 4x100m team qualification for Oregon.
Though Nigeria squeezed into the top 16th position among the qualified countries, AFN President, Tonobok Okowa, told The Guardian that the qualification is a moral booster for Team Nigeria.
“I am sure this will boost the morale of our athletes, coaches and everyone involved in this qualifying campaign,” Okowa stated.
Head coach of the AFN, former jumper, hurdler and sprinter, Seigha Porbeni, also spoke with The Guardian, yesterday, saying that more work would be done to turn the men’s 4x100m relay team into a medal-winning squad at Oregon 2022.
Porbeni described as ‘unfortunate’ the disqualification of Nigeria’s women’s 4x100m team from the World Championships after it initially qualified for the event.
However, he could not confirm, yesterday, if Nigeria’s men and women teams could still make it to Oregon 2022 in the 4x400m relay.
For the 4x400m Mixed Relay, Nigeria qualified with the 3:13.60 seconds time it recorded about a year ago at the National Stadium, Tokyo, during the Olympic Games.
The Guardian recalls that the additional one-year ban slammed on Okagbare knocked off all individual and relay results she was involved in from June 13, 2021. The decision pushed Team Nigeria down to 17th position, allowing Canada to take the last qualification spot in the women’s 4x100m relay to Oregon.