…as Team Nigeria Relay Teams seek Tokyo tickets
Reigning African long jump record holder Ese Brume and the relay events will take the centre stage on Sunday, the fourth and final day of events of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Olympic Trials. While Brume, who leapt a distance of 7.17m at the Chula Vista Field Vest at Chula Vista in California, USA at the end of May to smash Chioma Ajunwa’s 25-year-old 7.12m African record, will be gunning for the championship record held by Ajunwa.
Team Nigeria relay teams will be hoping for a smooth baton exchange and a smoother race to ensure they book their flights for the relay events of the Tokyo Olympics.
For Brume, this will be her first competition since she broke the African record and will be cheered on by Ajunwa who has been an ever present since the start of the championship.
Ajunwa holds the championship record of 6.83m which she set in Lagos in 1999 and Brume, whose best mark in the competition is the 6.68m she jumped seven years ago at the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar, will be confident of putting up another spectacular performance for the impressive crowd who has been treated to a great show at the championship. Meanwhile all five Team Nigeria Relay teams will be in action for probably the final chance to get the tickets that will ensure their passage to Tokyo.
The women’s 4x100m team is already provisionally through to the Games but will need to improve on its 43.05 seconds time achieved two years ago as Australia breathes down the neck of the Blessing Okagbare led team with a 43.11 seconds performance achieved June 12 in the Gold Coast.
The women’s 4x400m team complete with Favour Ofili should easily break 3.30 which should be enough to seal their ticket to Tokyo.
The team is currently ranked 17th with its 3.30:32 performance at the 2019 African Games and will need to at least beat the 3.30:02 the Dominican Republic team ran last April to be provisionally through.
The men’s 4x100m and 4x400m team as well as the mixed relay teams have their work out for them.
The depleted men’s 4x100m team needs to run faster than the 38.46 seconds Trinidad and Tobago achieved in August 2019 and which has placed them in the final qualification spot.
Nigeria is ranked two steps further down the ranking with the 38.59 seconds they ran in Rabat, Morocco at the African Games in 2019.
Ukraine has moved to the 17th spot with the 38.51 seconds they ran in Turkey on June 12, same as Turkey who moved from 16th to 15th spot following their 38.20 performance also on June 12 at the same meeting.
The men’s 4x400m team has a harder task at hand as they will need to break 3.03 to stand any chance of qualifying for the Games where they have won a gold and two bronze medals. The last time a Nigerian 1600 relay team ran inside 3.03 was in 2012 at the African Athletics Championship in Port Novo, Benin Republic where the quartet of Saul Weigopwa, Amaechi Morton, Abiola Onakoya and Isa Salihu ran 3.02.39 to win the gold medal.
The team will be through to Tokyo if they can replicate the 2012 feat.
Also aiming for a trip to Tokyo will be the 4x400m mixed relay team.
The team will be made up of the best two from the men and women’s 4x400m teams respectively and will need to run faster than the 3.14.84 achieved by the Czech Republic five days ago at an athletics meeting in Kladno, the Czech Republic to be sure of qualifying for the Games.