By Olayinka Elebute
Two out of the seven countries confirmed for the invitational relays scheduled as part of Nigeria’s Olympic trials have arrived Lagos for the event.
The two countries, Senegal and Ivory Coast came in Wednesday while the other five namely Zambia, Botswana, Cameroun, Benin Republic and Ghana are expected to jet in today.
The competition, holding at the Sports Ground of the Yaba College of Technology is one of the windows Nigeria and other African countries have to ensure their relay teams qualify for the relay events of the Tokyo Olympics following the cancellation of the African Senior Championships earlier billed to hold at the Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos.
Nigeria has provisionally qualified for the women’s 4x100m event and will be hoping to seal their spot on home soil with the iconic sprinter, Blessing Okagbare leading the charge.
The men’s 4x100m and the women’s 4x400m relay teams are just one quality perfromance away from sealing their places in Team Nigeria’s flight to the quadrennial Games.
The men’s 4x100m team has slipped one step further down to 18th in the ranking of teams for the games following Turkey and Ukraine’s impressive performance at an athletics meeting on June 12 in Erzurum, Turkey.
While Turkey jumped from 16th to 15th after their quartet improved from 38.47 seconds to 38.20 seconds, Ukariane jumped above Nigeria to 17th after running 38.51 at the same event.
Nigeria is ranked 18th courtesy of the 38.59 seconds the team ran two years ago at the African Games in Rabat and will need to run under 38.15 seconds to be sure of picking one of the available four slots on offer.
The women’s 4x400m team is still ranked 17th and needs to run inside 3:29 to be 100% sure of joining Team Nigeria’s plane to the Olympics.
With Favour Ofili available and leading the charge, athletics observers are confident the team will be among the 16 teams representing 16 nations that will line up for the event in Tokyo.
The men’s 4x400m and the 4x400m mixed relays are also in the hunt for tickets to the Games and will need to surmount high hurdles to make it.
The men’s team will need to not only break 3:03 in the event but also ensure it betters the 3:02.50 ran by Turkey on June 12, 2021 to guarantee a spot in the relay line up in Tokyo.
There are four slots left to fight for and Turkey tops the list with that performance in Erzurum and they are followed by Poland (3:02.56), India (3:02.59) and Brazil (3:02.84).
Nigeria is ranked further than in the 21st position with the 3:03.42 the team ran at the African Games in 2019.
For the mixed relay, Nigeria, currently ranked 25th with the 3:18.53 the team ran at the Prairie View meet in Texas, USA last month will need to run faster than the 3:14.84 Czech Republic ran on June 15, 2021 at the Mestský Stadion Sletište in Kladno, Czech Republic to be guaranteed qualification.
There are three available slots on offer in this event with Ukraine (3:15.46) and Belarus (3:16.65) occupying the 15th and 16th spots following their performance in Erzurum on June 12, 2021.