Nigeria’s contingent to this year’s International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships will depart for London on Tuesday, August 1.
The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) had initially prepared a list of 12 athletes for the championship, which run from August 4 to 13, but the Secretary General of the body, Akawo Amaechi told The Guardian yesterday that the number had increased to 17 following the inclusion of the women’s 4x100m relay team.
The AFN scribe said that six officials would make the trip. “We will leave on August 1 with 17 athletes and six officials,” Amaechi said. “The journey might begin from Lagos since majority of the athletes are there.”
The Guardian learnt that Okagbare and Amusan may lead the women’s 4x100m relay squad, alongside the duo of sprinter Isoken Igbinosun, who won the 100m in the recently concluded CAA/Warri Relay at Ozoro, as well and national champions, Aniekeme Alphonsus.
Sprinter Okagbare and sprint hurdler Tobiloba Amusan carry Nigeria’s medals hope to the World championship.
Okagbare is making her fourth competitive appearance at the championship, and she will compete in the 100m, long jump and the 4x100m events. The six-time Nigerian 100m champion won a long jump silver and a 200m bronze medal four years ago, when the championship took place in Moscow, Russia.
Amusan, who was part of Nigeria’s team that won the African U-18 Championship in Mauritius in 2013, is the current fastest Nigerian and African woman in the sprint hurdles with 12.57 seconds. She will be making her debut in London.
The hurdler, a semifinalist at Rio 2016 Olympics, is going into the championship with a Personal Best record of 12.57 seconds. She was a finalist in the event at the IAAF World U-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland where she came fifth.
While only three Nigerian male athletes made the qualification mark for the London championship, the women will be competing in both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. The nation’s flag bearers in 4x400m relay are Patience Okon-George, Yinka Ajayi, Margaret Bamgbose, Emerald Egwin and Abike Egbeniyi.
Nigeria have won a total of eight medals in the championships, made up of four silver medals (Innocent Egbunike in the 400m in 1987; the 4x100m men in 1997, Glory Alozie (00m hurdles) in 1999 and Blessing Okagbare in the long jump in 2013) and four bronze medals (Ajayi Agbebaku in the triple jump in 1983; the men’s 4x400m team in 1995, Francis Obikwelu in the 200m in 1999 and Blessing Okagbare in the 200m in 2013).