Archive | May, 2014

Team Naija Guide to 1st Ever World Relays, Bahamas 2014 (May 24th/25th)

23 May

The first ever World Relay Championships kick off in the Bahamas this weekend (May 24th/25th) and Team Nigeria will be there in full force! Nigeria has a 24-man contingent competing for Medals at the first ever World Relays, which has a total prize fund of $1.4 million (that’s 230 million)! The heats for the 4x100m and 4x400m especially promise to be loaded, given that the 8 teams that reach the finals of those events will qualify automatically for the Relays at the 2015 World Championships! Making of Champions will be covering the competition LIVE & DIRECT from the Bahamas, so stay tuned for updates throughout the weekend!

Below is the full LIVE  schedule for Nigerian viewers to tune in to watch Team Naija compete. For the first time ever, not only can you catch the competition on TV (SuperSports), you will be able to stream it LIVE on the internet, from the IAAF Official YouTube Channel! The detailed timings that follow are ONLY for the events Team Nigeria is competing in – men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x200m & 4x400m (Heats and possibly Finals for each) – that’s up to 12 races in total, to cheer on Team Nigeria! (For the full schedule, which also includes the 4x800m & 4x1500m events, please click here)

Sat May 24th – Day 1 LIVE: 9.45pm-2am Naija TimeSS6 (DSTV 206)
10:30pm – Men’s 4x200m Heats
10:49pm – Women’s 4x100m Heats (Blessing Okagbare likely to anchor)
11:40pm – Women’s 4x400m Heats (Regina George likely to anchor)
12:12am – Men’s 4x400m Heats
1:16am – Men’s 4x200m FINAL (if we qualify from the Heats)
1:33am – Women’s 4x100m FINAL B, or
1:42am – Women’s 4x100m FINAL

 

Sun May 25th – Day 2 LIVE: 10.15pm-2am Naija Time, SS6 (DSTV 206)
10:30pm – Women’s 4x200m Heats (Blessing Okagbare likely to anchor)
10:49pm – Men’s 4x100m Heats
11:14pm – Women’s 4x400m FINAL B, or
11:26pm – Women’s 4x400m FINAL 
12:41am – Men’s 4x400m FINAL B, or
12:52am – Men’s 4x400m FINAL 
1:11am – Women’s 4x200m FINAL (if we qualify from the Heats)
1:28am – Men’s 4x100m FINAL B, or
1:37am – Men’s 4x100m FINAL
1:42am – Women’s 4x100m FINAL

 

For those who can’t stay up late, there will be repeats on SuperSports on Sunday and Monday mornings, as follows:
Sun May 25th on SS6 (DSTV 206) – Day 1 REPEAT: 7 – 8.30am 
Mon May 26th on SS2 (DSTV 202) – Day 1 REPEAT: 8 – 9.30am & Day 2 REPEAT: 9.30 – 11am 

 

Below is Nigeria’s full team list and what events they will be competing in – it came out a couple of weeks ago, and though it has not been as anticipated as the Super Eagles final 23-man list for the World Cup, here it is nonetheless! The highlight for Team Nigeria will undoubtedly be to see whether Blessing Okagbare can lead the women to medals in the 4x100m and 4x200m Relays – we’ll be watching closely!

Women’s 4x100m: Blessing Okagbare, Gloria Asumnu, Peace Uko & Endurance Abinuwa

Women’s 4x200m: Regina George, Blessing Okagbare, Gloria Asumnu, Peace Uko & Endurance Abinuwa

Women’s 4x400m: Regina George, Patience Okon George, Omolara Omotosho, Bukola Abogunloko, Folashade Abugan & Amaka Ogoegbunam

Men’s 4x100m: Ogho-Oghene Egwero, Obinna Metu, Nicolas Imhoaperamhe, Elvis Ukale & Divine Oduduru

Men’s 4x200m: Noah Akwu, Ogho-Oghene Egwero, Obinna Metu, Elvis Ukale & Divine Oduduru

Men’s 4x400m: Noah Akwu, Amaechi Morton, Orukpe Erayokan, Omeiza Akerele, Tobi Ogunmola & Isah Salihu

 

The latest reports suggest that up to 6 of Nigeria’s athletes have been hit with injuries, though it should be noted that only 2 of them, Obinna Metu and Bukola Abogunloko appear in the above list. Let’s hope that this does not adversely affect Team Nigeria’s chances this weekend! Here is a video which shows what one Bahamian Athletics Official thinks about who is going to dominate at the World Relays, and what he thinks about Nigeria’s chances!

Nigeria’s 9th RELAY Medal – Men’s 4x400m Bronze @ Athens ’04 Olympics!

23 May

Nigeria’s 9th Relay Medal was won in the men’s 4×400 metres at the Athens Olympics by the quartet of James Godday, Musa Audu, Saul Weigopwa and Enefiok Udo-Obong . This is the last 4x400m medal that Nigeria has won on the global stage, and it’s also the last time any Nigerian man has won an Olympic medal in Athletics. 

Not since that Olympics has Nigeria had a quartet of male quarter-milers that can challenge for a Relay medal on the global stage. Godday was a 44.90s runner in his prime, back in 2008, though he can still be seen competing on the Nigerian Golden League circuit these days. Weigopwa was also a 45.00s runner, while Audu’s PB was 45.98s and Udo-Obong’s was 45.68s (though he ran an incredible 44 second split to help his other teammates to the 4x400m GOLD at the previous Olympics). Indeed for Nigeria’s men to make it back to contending for 4×400 Relay medals, we need at least three guys capable of going under 45 seconds – can we get back to this one day?

Can the present 4x400m team (including the likes of recent 400m National Champions Abiola Onakoya and Noah Akwu, and the Eko 2012 National Sports Festival Champion, Orukpe Erayokan) return Nigeria to the glory days and bring home a medal at the inaugural World Relay Championships starting tomorrow? Look out for the in the 4x400m heats on Saturday May 24th (12.10am Nigerian time on May 25th) and the finals on Sunday May 25th (12.40am Nigerian time on May 26th) in the Bahamas! (SuperSport 6 on DSTV Channel 204 will show the World Relays LIVE on both nights)!

 

The World Relays is a new annual competition (the 1st edition being held in The Bahamas on May 24th/25th), where the world’s best Track & Field nations will compete over 10 different events – 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m & 4x1500m (both men and  women). There is a total prize fund of $1.4  million up for grabs, and for the 4x100m & 4x400m, the 2014 World Relays will serve as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Championships (as will the 2015 World Relays for the 2016 Olympics). For viewers in Nigeria and Africa, the World Relays will show LIVE on SuperSports on May 24th/25th – more details soon!

Nigeria’s 8th RELAY Medal – Men’s 4x100m Bronze @ Athens ’04 Olympics!

21 May

Nigeria’s 8th Relay Medal was won thanks to a brilliant run in the men’s 4×100 metres at the Athens Olympics, by the quartet of Olusoji Fasuba, Uchenna Emedolu, Aaron Egbele and Deji Aliu. This was an exciting race in which Nigeria was in contention until the very end. Interestingly, Maurice Greene, who ran the anchor leg for Team USA, is currently Team Nigeria’s relay coordinator for the World Relays this weekend, and the Commonwealth Games in July/August:

This race more or less marks the zenith of men’s elite sprinting in Nigeria. Fasuba, Emedolu and Aliu were all sub-10 second 100 metres sprinters, and sadly Nigeria has not produced a sprinter that has dipped under 10 seconds since these guys hung up their spikes! Fasuba, despite later setting the current 100 metre African Record of 9.85 seconds in 2006, retired relatively early (at the age of 27) to join the British Navy. Emedolu is now based in Enugu and has been training athletes there for a number of years now, while Deji Aliu recently started his own Track Club in Lagos, and spoke exclusively to Making of Champions about his experience so far with coaching his athletes!

Maurice Greene, Deji Aliu and Mark Lewis-Francis as they cross the finish line in the men's 4x100m at Athens '04

Maurice Greene, Deji Aliu and Mark Lewis-Francis as they cross the finish line in the men’s 4x100m at Athens ’04, for the Silver, Bronze & GOLD medals               for Teams USA, Nigeria & GB respectively!

The sub-plot to this story that few, if anybody has ever connected, is that a Nigerian who was not in this Bronze Medal winning quartet won the 100m Individual Silver Medal at the same Olympics, but did so competing for Portugal! His name is Francis Obikwelu. Given that Obikwelu defeated even Maurice Greene in the individual event at Athens ’04, IF he had still been competing for Nigeria by then, this 4x100m Bronze may very well have been a GOLD medal for Nigeria. Of course we shall never know, but it shows that even then Nigeria had the talent needed to become Olympic Champions in the 4x100m Relay! So why exactly did Obikwelu turn his back on Nigeria? Well, the question could also be framed as “why did Nigeria turn its back on him?” Obikwelu’s story features in the upcoming documentary Making of Champions: “The History”. We went all the way to Portugal to meet him, and what he told us was simply unbelievable – click here to find out more!

Francis Obikwelu (centre) wins Olympic 100m Silver for Portugal behind USA's Justin Gatlin and ahead of Maurice Greene. The favourite at the time Asafa Powell (with head dropped) finished in 5th!

Francis Obikwelu (centre) wins Olympic 100m Silver for Portugal behind USA’s Justin Gatlin and ahead of Maurice Greene (Athens ’04). The favourite at the time Asafa Powell (with head dropped) finished in 5th, and 2003 World Champion Kim Collins finished in 6th – It was a loaded race!

The World Relays is a new annual competition (the 1st edition being held in The Bahamas on May 24th/25th), where the world’s best Track & Field nations will compete over 10 different events – 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m & 4x1500m (both men and  women). There is a total prize fund of $1.4  million up for grabs, and for the 4x100m & 4x400m, the 2014 World Relays will serve as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Championships (as will the 2015 World Relays for the 2016 Olympics). For viewers in Nigeria and Africa, the World Relays will show LIVE on SuperSports on May 24th/25th – more details soon!

 

EXCLUSIVE Interview (Part II) with Olympic Bronze Medallist, Deji Aliu, on his new Track Club!

20 May

Yesterday, we published the story Nigerian Athletes competing well EVERYWHERE…EXCEPT NIGERIA, where we asked why as Nigerians we are not doing enough for our athletes, many of whom go abroad and even defect to other countries in their bid to make a decent living from their profession. Well, here is one former Olympic Medallist who is trying to do his part to elevate Nigerian Athletics!

During the recently concluded Ibile Games (Lagos State Sports Festival), Making of Champions Founder, Bambo Akani, sat down with Nigeria’s 60 metre National Record Holder, Deji Aliu, to discuss his time competing for Nigeria, and a brand new Track Club he has set up in Lagos to train athletes. Here is the concluding part of that Interview – enjoy! (Click here if you missed Part I)

So you have started your own Track Club right here in Lagos? Does it have a name?

Yes, this is my own little camp. The name of my club is Akhigbe Track Club – the club is named after my late coach, Abel Akhigbe, who discovered me. We just started in January 2014 and it’s been positive so far. We have about 10 athletes now, and as you can see, these are young guys who are just coming into track for the first time. They range from as young as 15 to 23 years old.

How did you find and recruit these athletes to your club?

I’ve not really gone out to recruit so much, but most of them got in touch with me online, via Facebook, to ask me to help them train. Also, I get approached at competitions like this Ibile Games, by some of the athletes competing. I initially started with 2 athletes – my late coach’s kids, Segun and Deji – who decided they wanted to partake in Track & Field and asked me to help them. So I started with both of them, and it’s been growing.

What kind of resources do you need to run this club?

Track & Field requires steady finances for the athletes to do well. We don’t have all the training facilities we want, but we still just make do with what we have – like these boxes you see here which we did ourselves. When we need the gym there is a private gym nearby we can go to, but we have to pay for each member of the club that uses the gym. It requires a certain amount to get it up and running, so I’m trying my very best to keep it going – we’re getting there

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Do you get any support or funding from anywhere?

No, no. Right now, nothing. What I am trying to do right now is get these athletes to a certain level, where I can show them to the world, where people can then see this is what we’re doing. The average Nigerian wants to see results, and hopefully we can start showing that in 6 to 9 months. If I can get an athlete out there who is flying, people will start asking questions like “Who is your coach”, “When did you start” and “Where did you start”? Then, hopefully I will be able to get some support or funding.

Who is your fastest athlete right now? 

I would not want to talk about that right now. You know they are young, and things like that can get to them at this stage of their development. Even in training, I try not to praise anybody. You know when you praise some, the others could start feeling down as well, so mostly I don’t talk about who is faster. But honestly, they are all doing very well. I’m really encouraged as a coach.

Ok, so without naming names, can you make any predictions about when and where we might start hearing about your athletes?

What I can tell you for a fact is this – I have 3 athletes right now whom, all things being equal, should be able to represent Nigeria at the Junior (U-20) or Youth (U-17) level next year, with the way they’re going right now.

Are any of your athletes in school or university? They must have challenges combining their education with the intense training you’re providing them?

One just got admission to University, while 3 of them are still in secondary school. One is in Yaba Tech and one is in Unilag. It’s very tough for them, it’s not been easy, and that is why everything for them to be part of the Track Club falls at my doorstep. They are still students so they don’t work, and some are coming from as far as Isolo, Egbeda, and even Festac!

What would you say to Nigerians reading this about how we can get behind what you’re doing and other initiatives like this? 

Nigerians can show support by sponsoring the Track Club and assisting the athletes with their financial needs to continue training. Others can and should set up their own training camps as well. We need training camps were all the equipment needed is in the same place, so that the athletes don’t need to spend time and money moving from one place to the next. Then the athletes will be able to concentrate on their training – there are so many different ways they need assistance. 

So Nigerians and multi-nationals even should come in and set up training camps where the athletes can train. Honestly I feel sad whenever I go around and see talent wasting away. I’m not just saying it – we have an abundance of talent in Nigeria. Most of them are just wasting away because of financial constraints, let me just put it that way. If we had organised training camps, where things are done the way they should be, I don’t doubt that there are a lot of talents are out there yet to be discovered.

Why are you doing this? You’ve set up Akhigbe Track Club but you don’t have any sponsorship or funding or support, so why are you doing it?

Well I’m just doing it because I want to give back to Athletics. I’ll be honest with you, Athletics did so much for me – so, so much. It took me away from the streets, it made me somebody. I think I just want to give back, and the only way I can do that is assisting these young athletes to achieve their potential, and so far I’m enjoying it. 

Thank you very much for granting this exclusive interview to Making of Champions

You’re welcome

Nigeria’s 7th & GREATEST RELAY Medal – Men’s 4x400m GOLD @ Sydney 2000 Olympics!

20 May

Nigeria’s 7th Relay Medal, the men’s 4x400m GOLD medal at Sydney 2000, easily qualifies as Nigeria’s greatest Relay medal, not only because it is the only GOLD medal of the lot, but also for the manner in which it was won, with Enefiok Udo-Obong overhauling the Jamaicans and Bahamians in the finals metres of the race! Being Nigeria’s ONLY Olympic Gold medal on Track, this should have been one of our greatest Olympic moments, but the opportunity to hear Nigeria’s national anthem at Sydney 2000 was denied by an American team who initially took the Gold, but were later stripped of it after one of their athletes, Antonio Pettigrew (RIP),  eventually admitted in 2008 to taking performance enhancing drugs during that period. It took another 4 years for the Nigerian Quartet to be officially awarded the GOLD in 2012.

The Golden Quartet were Clement Chukwu, Jude Monye, Sunday Bada (RIP) and Enefiok Udo-Obong. Such was Nigeria’s strength in depth in the Quarter-Mile at that time, that we also had Nduka Awazie and Fidelis Gadzama who ran in the heats at Sydney 2000 and hence also picked up GOLD medals! We pick up the final race from the 3rd leg, with the legendary Sunday Bada collecting the baton down in 4th place: The commentator doesn’t even give Nigeria a mention until the last 150 metres!

Enefiok Udo-Obong tells the story of his epic anchor leg run in the upcoming documentary film, Making of Champions: “The History”. What did he have to say about the greatest moment of his career? See for yourself, here’s a snippet from the film!

On July 24th 2013, President Goodluck honoured the 6 men who won the GOLD for Nigeria, awarding each of them N5 million - Sunbo, Sunday Bada's wife, stood in for him (L-R Fidelis Gadzama, Jude Monye, Sunbo Bada, President Goodluck Jonathan, Enefiok Udo-Obong, Nduka Awazie)

On July 24th 2013, President Jonathan honoured the 6 men who won the GOLD for Nigeria, awarding them N5 million each. Sunbo, Sunday Bada’s wife, stood in for him (L-R Fidelis Gadzama, Jude Monye, Sunbo Bada, President Goodluck Jonathan, Enefiok Udo-Obong, Nduka Awazie)

The World Relays is a new annual competition (the 1st edition being held in The Bahamas on May 24th/25th), where the world’s best Track & Field nations will compete over 10 different events – 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m & 4x1500m (both men and  women). There is a total prize fund of $1.4  million up for grabs, and for the 4x100m & 4x400m, the 2014 World Relays will serve as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Championships (as will the 2015 World Relays for the 2016 Olympics). For viewers in Nigeria and Africa, the World Relays will show LIVE on SuperSports on May 24th/25th – more details soon!

 

Nigerian Athletes competing well EVERYWHERE…EXCEPT NIGERIA!!!

19 May

What do Femi Ogunode, Chijindu Ujah, Lyukman Adams and Kemi Adekoya all have in common? Well, there is a continuing trend which continues to show itself plainly all over the World of Athletics – Nigerians are supremely TALENTED people. Only problem is, Nigeria does not seem to be reaping the benefits of this embarrassment of riches when it comes to talent. A cursory look at this weekend’s Track & Field action all over the world shows athletes of Nigerian origin doing big things everywhere, albeit for their adopted countries or countries of birth…

Firstly, the annual GreatCity Games on the streets of Manchester took place on Saturday, and while the highlight of the event was surely Yohan Blake’s return from last year’s hamstring injury with at 14.71s win in the 150 metres, Qatar’s Femi Ogunode and Britain’s Chijindu Ujah, finished 1st & 2nd in the 100metres with times of 10.10s and 10.14s respectively, ahead of Team GB’s recently crowned 60m World Indoor Champion Richard Kilty:

So who are Ogunode and Ujah? Well Femi Ogunode is the second athlete that Nigeria lost to Qatar, after Asian 100m Record Holder, Samuel Francis. Ogunode moved to Qatar in 2009 and started competing for them the following year. He is the 200m National Record Holder for Qatar with 20.30s. He just returned from a 2-year drug suspension, and has started the 2014 Athletics season very well, with the 60m World Indoor Championship bronze medal in March, and a solid 20.38s run in the 200m at the Doha Diamond League  earlier this month. Interestingly, his younger brother, Tosin Ogunode, started competing for Qatar this year, and promptly became the Asian 60m Record Holder with a 6.50s run in January!

Chijindu Ujah on the other hand was born and bred in the UK, so Nigeria cannot lay any claim to him except in his name. He is one of an upcoming new generation of British sprinters who are getting set to light up the world for years to come. He is the current European Junior 100m Champion and also a Silver medallist at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games (u-17). In Saturday’s race, he lowered his PB from 10.26s to 10.14s, which means that at the age of 20, he’s already faster than Nigeria’s best sprinters currently. His is not the only Nigerian name in Team GB’s youth sprint set-up – last year, Ojie Edoborun won a World Youth (u-17) Championships Silver medal in the 100m in 10.35s – even a 17 year-old British-born Nigerian is running as fast as our best senior athletes!

Triple Jumper Lyukman Adams is another outstanding world-class athlete that Nigeria can lay no claim to, apart from the fact that he was born to a Nigerian father, though he has lived his lived his whole life in Russia and never been to Nigeria. The Russian athlete has GOLD and Bronze medals in the Triple Jump from the last two World Indoor Championships, and has also started the 2014 outdoor season well, with a victory in the Shanghai Diamond League yesterday with a 17.10m jump. Interestingly, Britain’s former World Champion and Olympic Silver Medallist, Phillips Idowu, a 17.81m jumper at his best in 2010, was down in 6th place.

The Athletics world is rife with athletes of Nigerian origin doing big things all over the world. USA’s Omo Osaghae is the current 60m Hurdles World Indoor Champion. James Dasaolu is the 2nd fastest Brit in history with 9.91s. Formerly of USA and now competing for Britain, Tiffany Porter (née Ofili) is a World Championship Bronze Medallist in the 100m Hurdles, and also won her race at the GreatCity Games in Manchester on Saturday. But these are mostly athletes that were born abroad so, apart from hailing the origin of their genes, Nigeria cannot take credit for their emergence on the world stage.

Which is why when Athletes born and bred in Nigeria switch countries and also start firing on all cylinders, one has to wonder why no one is Nigeria is prepared to train these athletes to the same level as our rival nations all over the world are prepared to dowhy do we value our own people less than the rest of the world does? The shocking story of Kemi Adekoya’s switch to Bahrain, for whom she set a new Bahraini record in the 400m Hurdles in Qatar on May 9th, has been reverberating around the Athletics world…

 

 

 

Nigeria’s 6th RELAY Medal – Men’s 4x100m Silver @ Athens ’97 World Championships!

19 May

Nigeria’s 6th Global Relay Medal was also the 2nd and last Relay Medal that Team Nigeria has won at the World Championships. The men’s 4x100m Silver that Nigeria won at Athens ’97 was during an era that both Canada and indeed Nigeria were still forces in global sprinting. Team Nigeria’s quartet of Osmond Ezinwa, Olapade Adeniken, Francis Obikwelu and Davidson Ezinwa finished 2nd to a Canadian team that was anchored by the 1996 Olympic 100m Champion, Donovan Bailey. Nigeria had the lead briefly as the anchor leg runners entered the final straight,but Bailey overhauled Davidson Ezinwa to win Canada’s third straight 4×100 metre global title (after Gothenburg ’95 World Championships and Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games)! This time, we have to make do with watching the Nigeria team in the shadows of the coverage of Team Canada:

The Ezinwa twins and Adeniken were surviving members of the class of ’92 that won the Olympic Silver medal behind the then World Record set by the Carl Lewis-anchored Team USA. Obikwelu was the new member of the quartet who helped to usher in another generation of great sub-10 runners for Nigeria, from 1997 to 2004. Sadly for Nigeria, Obikwelu would go on to switch to Portugal in 2001, and eventually won an Olympic Silver medal for them at Athens 2004! His story is chronicled in the upcoming feature-length documentary, Making of Champions: “The History”.

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The World Relays is a new annual competition (the 1st edition being held in The Bahamas on May 24th/25th), where the world’s best Track & Field nations will compete over 10 different events – 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m & 4x1500m (both men and  women). There is a total prize fund of $1.4  million up for grabs, and for the 4x100m & 4x400m, the 2014 World Relays will serve as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Championships (as will the 2015 World Relays for the 2016 Olympics). For viewers in Nigeria and Africa, the World Relays will show LIVE on SuperSports on May 24th/25th – more details soon!

Okagbare comes of age with TWO victories in Shanghai Diamond League: 200m & Long Jump!

18 May

Blessing Okagbare demonstrated complete dominance of both the Long Jump and 200 metre fields in the 2nd leg of this year’s Diamond League, which took place earlier today (Sunday) in Shanghai. She won the Long Jump with her very first jump, in a new Meeting Record (MR) of 6.86 metres. She proceeded to only take 3 of her 6 allotted jumps, to conserve her energy for the 200 metres a couple of hours later, which she won comfortably in yet another MR of 22.36s, just 0.05s off her personal best in the event!

One could say that Okagbare has come of age with these TWO dominant displays of her raw power and speed. One might recall that in the World Championships last year, she took all 6 jumps while winning the Silver medal in the Long Jump, but was not able to recover well for the 100 metres semi-finals and finals the following day, where she finished in a disappointing (by her standards) 6th place. It would seem that not only is she getting stronger, with TWO commanding victories on the same night, but she is also competing smarter, by forfeiting her final 3 jumps in the Long Jump, so that she had enough left in the tank for the 200m. She had reportedly planned a similar strategy at the World Championships, but one can imagine that when a World Title was on the line and she was in the Silver medal position, she would undoubtedly have been compelled to take every single jump in attempting to win the GOLD (she missed out on it by 1 centimetre to USA’s Brittany Reese)!

Unfortunately, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce pulled out of the 200m race in Shanghai at the last minute, so we were denied another head-to-head between these two great athletes. This year’s Diamond League is shaping up to be an extremely tasty prospect for Blessing Okagbare, the world’s busiest athlete on the Diamond League circuit, as she attempts to win the Diamond League race for THREE different events: 100m, 200m & Long Jump! With these wins today, she is already top of the 200m & Long Jump leaders’ boards with 4 points each, and she is currently 2nd in the 100m behind Fraser-Pryce, with 2 points! One thing is for certain, both Chioma Ajunwa’s African Long Jump Record (7.12 metres) and Mary Onyali’s African 200m Record (22.07s) are under serious threat from Blessing – can she break one or both of them this season? She already took Glory Alozie’s 100m African Record last year, with 10.86s and 10.79s runs at the London Anniversary Games!

Nigeria’s Regina George, could only manage 8th place in 51.39s, in a stacked women’s 400 metre race which was won by Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills in 50.31s. Considering that all the other athletes in the field have significantly better PBs than George, this should not be viewed as a disappointment for her. This season is still early, and if she can get close to and beyond her PB of 50.84s, she’ll be back in the mix in future races! Let’s hope that she can re-produce the form that she has shown as a 4x400m Relay runner, with anchor leg splits of 50.5s for Nigeria at the Penn Relays last month, and a sub-50 second split in the Semi-Finals of the World Championships last year.

Be sure to follow @MakingOfChamps on Twitter and like facebook.com/makingofchamps for all your Diamond League updates this season, including TV schedules, live twitter & facebook updates, with a special focus on athletes representing Nigeria!

2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar

Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep

 

Nigeria’s 5th RELAY Medal – Women’s 4x400m SIlver @ Atlanta ’96

18 May

Nigeria’s 5th Global Relay Medal was won in a race that is widely regarded as one of the greatest relay races of all time, the women’s 4×400 metres at Atlanta ’96. Those were truly the glory days for the women’s 400 metres in Nigeria, as the nation had no less than THREE  sub-50 second quarter-milers in Fatima Yusuf, Charity Opara and  Falilat Ogunkoya. They were joined by Olabisi Afolabi, who ran the first leg in this awesome quartet that fought Team USA right to the very end! This was one race that you thought Team Nigeria had in the bag after the first two legs, but somehow Ogunkoya received the baton on the anchor leg some 10 metres behind USA’s Jearl Miles, but she still made it a completely riveting contest:

Team Nigeria’s time of 3:21.04 in this race still stands as the African Record in the women’s 4×400 metres, and it will take some beating – Nigeria is the only country in Africa that has the pedigree, and the current potential in women’s 400 metres to one day match this epic quartet. That said, current Nigerian 400m Champion, Regina George is the only athlete in the current quartet running under 51 seconds – we’ll need at least THREE solid sub-50 second runners to match the class of ’96!

The jewel in the crown of the ’96 set was undoubtedly Falilat Ogunkoya, still the African Record Holder in the 400 metres at 49.10s, by virtue of her fantastic individual Bronze medal at the same games – she is one of only 3 Nigerians in history that are Double Olympic Medallists, and she has the unique distinction of being the only Nigerian to win TWO medals at the SAME Olympic Games! She made history by running under 50 seconds a whopping NINETEEN times in her careereven Great Britain’s greatest athlete, Christine Ohuruogu has only done it FIVE times in her whole career!

 

The World Relays is a new annual competition (the 1st edition being held in The Bahamas on May 24th/25th), where the world’s best Track & Field nations will compete over 10 different events – 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m & 4x1500m (both men and  women). There is a total prize fund of $1.4  million up for grabs, and for the 4x100m & 4x400m, the 2014 World Relays will serve as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Championships (as will the 2015 World Relays for the 2016 Olympics). For viewers in Nigeria and Africa, the World Relays will show LIVE on SuperSports on May 24th/25th – more details soon!

Nigeria’s 4th RELAY Medal – Men’s 4x400m Bronze @ Gothenburg ’95 World Championships!

17 May

Nigeria’s 4th Global Relay Medal, and our first ever Relay medal at the World Championships, came at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg in the men’s 4×400 metres. The Nigerian Quartet that brought home the Bronze was made up of Udeme Ekpeyong, Kunle Adejuyibe, Jude Monye and Sunday Bada (RIP), who ran a storming final leg, picking up the baton in 6th place seemingly out of contention, but bringing Team Nigeria home in 3rd!

Sunday Bada was probably Nigeria’s most decorated male athlete – he was the Nigerian National 400m Champion a record 9 times, a World Indoor 400m Champion & Double Silver Medallist, an Olympic GOLD Medallist in the 4x400m (more on that in the coming days!), and a World Championship Bronze Medallist in the 4x400m, thanks to this amazing anchor leg run in Gothenburg! He was fifth in the 400m final at the 1993 World Championships in a time of 44.63s, which makes him the second fastest Nigerian ever in the 400 metres, behind Innocent Egbunike’s 44.17s!

Sunday Bada was the Technical Director of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) when he passed away suddenly at the National Stadium in Lagos in December 2011. As Nigeria’s No 1 Quarter-Miler for the best part of a decade, he is sorely missed!

4x400m men WC 1995

 

The World Relays is a new annual competition (the 1st edition being held in The Bahamas on May 24th/25th), where the world’s best Track & Field nations will compete over 10 different events – 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m & 4x1500m (both men and  women). There is a total prize fund of $1.4  million up for grabs, and for the 4x100m & 4x400m, the 2014 World Relays will serve as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Championships (as will the 2015 World Relays for the 2016 Olympics). For viewers in Nigeria and Africa, the World Relays will show LIVE on SuperSports on May 24th/25th – more details soon!

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