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Nigerian Athletes Move Olympics Qualification Quest To USATF Open

Austin Okon-Akpan  
Updated May 17, 2021
Nigerian athletes pose for a group photograph at a stadium.

 

Nigerian athletes, Enoch Adegoke and quarter-milers Nse Uko Imaobong and Patience Okon-George will have another chance to beat the 10.05 seconds (100m) and 51.35 seconds (400m) qualification standard for the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday when they compete at the 2021 USA Track & Field (USATF) Open Meet in Dallas, Texas.

The trio will lead a couple of other Nigerian athletes currently on training and qualification tour in the United States as the countdown to the June 29 Olympics qualifying deadline begins.

Adegoke is the fastest home-based athlete this season with his 10.16s performance in January in Akure which topped the world list for a few weeks.

He is also the second-fastest Nigerian behind Divine Oduduru who leads the ranking with the 10.05s he ran last month in the United States.

Adegoke needs to match Oduduru’s national top list performance or run faster to qualify for the 100m event in Tokyo, and will hope to take the chance in Dallas.

Also seeking to make it to Tokyo are Nse Uko and Okon-George, Nigeria’s fastest quarter-milers this year.

Nse Uko who won the Edo 2020 Festival with a new 51.70s personal best aims to run a sub 51s for the first time in her career and in the process, crack the 51.35 qualifying barrier in front of her.

Okon-George, a veteran quarter-miler, targets a faster time than the 51.84 seconds she ran in March last year at the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Test The Track Meeting in Benin City.

Sprinters Jerry Jakpa and Joy Udo-Gabriel will also get the chance to run new lifetime times that will be required to get into the event in Tokyo.

Jakpa ran 10.33s at the Edo 2020 Festival to place third but knew he needed to perform a miracle in Dallas to match Oduduru’s 10.05s personal season’s best to qualify.

Pretty Udo-Gabriel who finally raced under 11.4s (11.34s) at the festival will need to continue with the momentum and run 11.15s to secure her ticket to Tokyo and join the duo of Blessing Okagbare and Grace Nwokocha who have sealed qualification.

Sikiru Adeyemi, Ifeanyi Ojeli, Nathaniel Samson, and Chidi Okezie are also expected to perform miracles by becoming the first Nigerians to run below 45s in six years after Orukpe Erayokan last did in September 2015. The qualifying standard is 44.90 seconds.

None of the quartets is close to the mark, but Okezie is the fastest courtesy of the 45.60s he ran to win the 400m gold at the National Sports Festival in Benin City.

He is joined by Adeyemi (45.93s) and Ojeli (45.99s) as the only three Nigerians who have broken 46 seconds in the event this year.

The relays are not included in the schedule for this year’s USA Track & Field (USATF) Open meet in Dallas, Texas.