LONDON OLYMPICS: Nigeria is out of men’s 4x400m relay

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Tuesday confirmed that Nigeria’s 4x400m men’s relay team will not compete at the London Olympics.

This is contrary to the statement by the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) on Monday which listed the team among the country’s contingent to the Games.

The Nigerian 4x400m relay team is made up of Saul Weigopwa, Abiola Onokoya, Isah Salihu, Tobi Ogunmola, Segun Ogunkole and Godday James.

The team ran 3:02.39 to win the gold medal at the just concluded 18th African Athletics Championships on Sunday in Porto Novo, and they were wrongly informed that the team made the cut for the Olympics.

However, the IAAF on Tuesday released the list of 16 teams that have qualified to participate in the event in London and Nigeria was not included in the list.

According to the IAAF report, “the qualification period for the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays at the Games of the XXX Olympiad, London 2012 ended on Monday 2 July. The IAAF is pleased to confirm the following 16 teams, per each of the four relays, which have qualified to compete, are as follows…”

Until the victory in Port Novo, Nigeria was ranked out of the top 20 nations but moved to the 18th on the list following last Sunday’s personal season’s best performance in Benin republic.

South Africa and Kenya will be flying the continent’s flag in the London games which will kick-off in a few weeks.

Meanwhile Nigeria still stands a chance to make the games if two of the qualified countries drop out of the event at the quadrennial Games on their own volition.

Nigeria will thus not be competing in the men’s 4x400m relay at the Olympics.

Victory in past relays have accounted for some of the nine medals Nigeria has won in the athletics event of the Olympic Games.

Nigeria wins African Athletics Championship

Nigeria has regained the leadership of Africa’s athletics by winning 10 gold, six silver and five bronze medals at the just concluded 18th African Athletics Championship in Port Novo.

Kenya came second with nine gold, nine silver and nine bronze medals, while South Africa, the 2008 champions came third with six gold, 10 silver and eight bronze medals.

Nigeria set a total of three championships and one African record in the five-day competition with Vivian Chukwuemeka, setting a new African, national and championship record of 18.86m for shot put.

The shot put Queen, who is also a Commonwealth champion, toppled her 17.60m record which was set in Tunis in 2002, when she was crowned African champion for the first time.

Blessing Okagbare also erased Chioma Ajunwa’s 6.78m record with a new 6.96m record while the women’s 4x400m relay team erased the 3:29.26 record set by the quartet of Shade Abugan, Margaret Etim, Bukola Abogunloko and Ajoke Odumosu two years ago in Nairobi.

The victory of Nigeria’s men and women’s relay teams in the 4x400m race on Sunday, heralded Nigerian’s return to the summit of African athletics.

The women’s 1600 relay set the tone for an intriguing finish with a new championships record of 3:28.77 to beat Botswana led by individual 400m winner and reigning world champion, Amantle Montsho.

The quartet of Salihu Issah,Amaechi Morton,Abiola Onakoya and anchor-leg runner, Saul Weigopwa picked the gold with a new 3:02.39 seconds record to put Nigeria on top of the medals table 12 years after it last enjoyed that privilege in Dakar, Senegal.

Earlier, sprinters Gloria Asumnu and Lawretta Ozoh had won the gold and silver medals in the 200m with the former winning a photo-finish race with both athletes timed at 22.93 seconds.

In the men’s version, Noah Akwu made a surprise incursion into the medals arena by winning the bronze (20.83 seconds) in a race won by Cote d’Ivoire’s Ben Meite Youssef (20.62 seconds) who made up for his disqualification in the 100m.