Olympics: Nigeria’s Adegoke Beats 2021 World Fastest Man, Runs New Personal Best

Nigeria’s Enoch Adegoke wins the men’s 100m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

Nigerian sprinter, Enoch Adegoke, has used the biggest platform in sports, the Olympics to join the exclusive club of sub-10 seconds runners after running 9.98 seconds to win his first-round heat and also book his place in the semi-finals of the 100m event in Tokyo.

Adegoke also becomes the 11th Nigerian in history to run a sub 10.

He ran a historic 10.00 seconds in June to win the national title but was under pressure to match the impressive performance of Grace Nwokocha in the women’s 100m after both dominated the Nigerian local athletics circuit like never before, and the 21-year-old lived up to expectations.

He won heat 2 in style, beating the fastest man in the world this year and seventh fastest of all-time, United States Trayvon Brommel who topped the pre-Games world list with the 9.77 seconds he ran last month in Florida.

Also through to the semi-final was Ushoritse Itshekiri who finished third in his first-round heat while Nigeria’s third entrant in the event, Divine Oduduru, was disqualified for false starting.

Adegoke has been drawn against the same athletes he defeated – Brommel, Nigeria-born Qatari, Femi Ogunode, and Britain’s Zhana Hughes, in the second semi-final heat.

A file photo of Enoch Adegoke and Grace Nwokocha.

 

Itshekiri, on the other hand, will run in the first semi-final and has been drawn against four sprinters who have ducked inside 10 seconds this season, led by Canada’s Andre De Grasse.

Both Nigerians will be looking to become the next duo that will make the final of the event at the games after Davidson Ezinwa and Olapade Adeniken did in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, Nwokocha failed to advance to the women’s 100m final after finishing fifth in her semi-final heat with a time of 11.10 seconds performance, the second in two days.

Her time of 11:00 seconds from Friday’s heat made her the fifth-fastest Nigerian woman in history.

The 20-year-old’s performance has been remarkable after becoming the fastest Nigerian-based athlete since Mercy Nku ran 11.04 seconds in 1997 in Benin City.

Okagbare, Nwokocha Advance To 100m Semis At Tokyo Olympics

A combination of file photos of Nigerian athletes, Blessing Okagbare and Grace Nwokocha.

 

For the first time since 2012, two Nigerian athletes will be running in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m after Blessing Okagbare and Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha qualified from their respective heats at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Okagbare will be running in her third semis since she made her debut in the event at the London 2012 Olympics. She ran 11.05 seconds to win her first-round heat.

The 32-year-old has been drawn in the first semi-final heat alongside two heavyweights of the event – defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica who ran 10.82 seconds to win her first-round heat, and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 200m world champion two years ago in Doha, Qatar who ran 11.07 seconds to come second in her first-round heat.

Okagbare, 2008 Beijing Olympics Long Jump silver medallist, will be in action at exactly 11.15 am Nigerian time on Saturday.

Nwokocha, on her part, ran a new personal best of 11.00 seconds to secure her qualification to the semi-finals in her debut at the Olympics.

The 20-year-old has also moved into fifth in the Nigeria all-time list behind Okagbare (10.79), Glory Alozie (10.90), Mary Onyali (10.97), and Damola Osayomi (10.99).

The home-based athlete who posted 11.09 seconds to secure her qualification for the Olympics in March at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos will, however, need to make further history by breaking the 11 seconds barrier as the fifth Nigerian woman to do so to stand a chance of joining Onyali and Okagbare as debutants who ran all the way to the final of the event.

She has been drawn to run from lane nine in the third semi-final heat with the fastest woman alive, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, as well as Daryl Neita of Great Britain, Teahna Daniels of the USA, and fellow African, Muriel Ahoure of Ivory Coast.