Team Nigeria’s 4x400m Mixed Relay team got off to a good start at the PVAMU track meet in Texas on Wednesday, running a new 3:18.53 Nigerian record to win the event and move to withing five places of sealing a spot in the event at the Tokyo Olympics.
The quartet of Nse Uko Imaobong, Patience Okon-George, Nathaniel Samson and Sikiru Adeyemi made history as the first quartet to dorn the country’s colours in the event.
The team, according to the latest ranking released by World Athletics are now 21st behind Germany who presently occupy the 16th qualifying spot, Kenya, France, Czech Republic and Colombia.
Olamide George, acting president of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria is confident the team will qualify for not just the mixed relay event but also 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,” said George.
Nigeria will need to better the time ran by Germany (3:16.85) to become one of the 16 finalists for the event in Tokyo and George believes it can be done.
“Remember this is the first time ever that we are competing as a nation in the event. When we get the full complement of our team, I believe we will run faster than 3:16,” he added and thanked the Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare for his support for the AFN.
“The Honourable Minister has been our pillar of strength in this Convid-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 is also appreciative of the Minister’s support especially with his adopt-a-talent initiative, “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 qualication standard set by World Athletics,” said Okon