Nigeria’s 4x400m Mixed Relay team got off to a good start at the PVAMU track meet in Texas, running a new 3 minutes 18.53 seconds Nigerian record to win the event and moved within five places of sealing a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
The quartet of Nse Imaobong, Patience Okon-George, Nathaniel Samson, and Sikiru Adeyemi made history as the first quartet to represent the country in the mixed relay event.
According to the latest ranking released by World Athletics, the team are now 21st behind Germany who presently occupy the 16th qualifying spot, Kenya, France, Czech Republic, and Colombia.
In his reaction, the acting President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Olamide George, was confident that the team would secure qualification in the mixed relay event and the men and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m events.
“We are delighted with the performance of the team at the PVAMU meet here in Texas and believe we can do much better in our next race.
“We now know what we need to do to secure one of the four available slots on offer,” George said.
Nigeria will need to improve on the time ran by Germany (3:16.85) to become one of the 16 finalists for the event in Tokyo and the AFN official believes it can be done.
“Remember this is the first time ever that we are competing as a nation in this event. When we get the full complement of our team, I believe we will run faster than 3:16,” said George who thanked the Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, for his support.
He added, “The honourable minister has been our pillar of strength in this COVID-19 pandemic era and we have keyed into his dream of returning Nigeria to the podium in track and field at the Olympics after 13 long years.”
Veteran athletics coach, Gabriel Okon, was also appreciative of the minister’s support, especially with his adopt-a-talent initiative.
Speaking of the initiative, he stated, “It has worked wonders. For example, we have, for the first time in recent memory qualify for the Olympics in a track event in Nigeria.
“Grace Nwokocha is one of the athletes on the programme and she ran 11.09 seconds in the 100m, which is about the fastest time by a home-based athlete on Nigerian soil in over two decades and 22.79 seconds in the 200m.”
“Both times are better than the Olympics qualification standard set by World Athletics,” Coach Okon said.