Archive | April, 2014

Mixed Results for Team Naija at Penn Relays

29 Apr

Regina George anchors 4x400m women to 2nd place with storming final leg run!

The annual Penn Relays took place in the US over the weekend, and Team Nigeria’s recently hired Relay Co-ordinator, former 100m world record holder Maurice Greene, will have been given some insight into Nigeria’s chances at the upcoming inaugural World Relays competition set to take place in the Bahamas on May 24th/25th. The brightest story for Team Nigeria coming out of the Penn Relays undoubtedly was the 2nd place finish of the 4x400m women’s team in a time of 3:27.16, helped in no small part by current 2-time Nigeria 400m CHAMPION, Regina George, who received the baton on the anchor leg nearly 2 seconds behind Team USA and Jamaica, but ran an amazing 50.49s split to overhaul Jamaica’s Shericka Williams in the final metres, to finish 2nd behind Team USA! With some improvement, Nigeria’s 4x400m women look set to challenge the likes of Team GB and Jamaica for Relay medals in the 4x400m at the Commonwealth Games in July/August. George also looks set to soon become Nigeria’s first sub-50 second Quarter-Miler since the likes of Falilat Ogunkoya, Fatima Yusuf and Charity Opara in the 90’s, who were part of Nigeria’s awesome 4x400m Olympic Silver Medal winning team of Atlanta ’96, where they just lost out to Team USA for the GOLD in a breath-taking race!

Regina George’s unravelling story as a potential future Olympic and World Championship medallist for Nigeria is both intriguing and inspiring – born in the US, she competed as a Junior for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in 2010 (where she was beaten by 2 Nigerians in the 400m final), before making the switch to her fatherland Nigeria. She has since then instantly become Nigeria’s number one 400m Athlete, winning the Nigerian 400m title in both 2012 and 2013. She is certainly one of Nigeria’s brightest hopes for an individual Olympic Medal at Rio 2016, and Making of Champions covered her amazing story last year in this insightful interview highlighting her accomplishments so far in the Green of Nigeria (below)!  All Team Nigeria fans should get behind Regina George and encourage her as she continues to do the country proud –  one can only hope that she posts some amazing times in 2014 and wins a Commonwealth Games medal that will get her more attention in Nigeria, and more support in her quest to be a medal contender at Rio 2016!

The men’s relay teams for Nigeria unfortunately did not perform as well as the women’s 4x400m at the Penn Relays this past weekend. The men’s 4x400m finished in 5th place out of 5 teams in a time of 3:05.05, over 4 seconds behind the Golden Knights of the Bahamas (of London 2012 GOLD medal fame), and over 6 seconds behind the Nigerian and African Record (2:58.68), set by the Gold medal winning team from the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The men’s 4x100m also finished 6th out of 6 teams, in a time of 39.89s, which happens to be slower than the current Jamaican Schoolboy Relay record, held by a secondary school called Calabar High School in Jamaica (that’s a story for another time)…here’s another story of the weekend from a Nigerian perspective – a cursory look at the roster for Team Qatar, which finished in 5th place (Tosin Ogunode, Samuel Francis, Femi Ogunode, Eid Al-Kuwari) will show the obvious, that THREE of them are Nigerians, including Samuel Francis, who is the Asian 100m Record Holder at 9.99s! 

Imagine how good Team Naija would be if we kept all our best athletes competing for Nigeria?

Former world’s fastest man hired by Team Nigeria as Relay Coordinator for Commonwealth Games

29 Apr

A couple of weeks ago on the Sports Tonight Show on Channels TV, the show’s host, Toyin Ibitoye and Making of Champions Founder, Bambo Akani, discussed the appointment a couple of weeks ago of the former 100m World Record holder, Maurice Greene, as Team Nigeria’s Relay Coordinator for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July/August and the African Championships in Marrakech in August. The appointment has been seen as controversial in many quarters, not least by Nigerian Olympic GOLD Medallist, Enefiok Udo-Obong, who did not mince words in his blog when saying that he felt it was a waste of resources, especially given that 2 other Americans, Angie Taylor and Eric Campbell, are already at the helm of Nigerian Sports, as National Performance Director, and Performance Director for Athletics.

Despite Greene’s legendary status in the World of Athletics, questions are already being asked as to what appreciable impact he could possibly have on our athletes in 3 months, especially given that since his running days, he is more renowned as a pundit for Eurosport, and for a brief stint on the television show Dancing with the Stars…indeed the poor performance of Team Nigeria at the Mt SAC Relays in California over the weekend suggests that he will have his work cut out for him ahead of the Commonwealth Games – watch this space for more updates!

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