Former Americans DOMINATE on Day 2 of Nigerian Athletics Championships – a SHOCKING new trend in Naija Athletics?

21 Jun

The 2nd Day of the Nigerian Trials for the Commonwealth Games took place on Friday in Calabar, with athletes who formerly represented USA dominating proceedings. The sudden emergence of former Americans at the Nigerian Championships is already causing a stir (and confusion) amongst fans and athletes alike.

The crown of Nigeria’s fastest man went to Former American Mark Jelks, representing Delta State. He was head and shoulders above the rest of the field, running an impressive 10.12s in the heats on Day 1, and following that up with victories in the semis and finals, both in times of 10.23s, into headwinds of -1.7 m/s and -2.3 m/s respectively. Second place went to another former US Athlete, Mozavous Arkezes Edwards, also representing Delta, who finished in 10.39s, with the defending champion Ogho-Oghone Egwero finishing third in 10.45s. Another former Champion on his comeback trail, Obinna Metu, finished a disappointing 5th place in 10.51s, and one must wonder now if he will ever reach the heights that made him Nigerian No. 1 and to go and train at Usain Bolt’s camp in Jamaica for a couple of month! Jelks was mobbed by Nigerian press after the race, and when asked about his family links to Nigeria, he told us that his ‘Papa’ (grandfather) was from  Warri South!

22-year old Seye Ogunlewe, the most promising young Nigerian sprinter for some time now, finished 4th in 10.46s, and unfortunately misses out on an individual spot in the 100 metres for Nigeria at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (he finished 2nd behind Egwero last year and has a PB of 10.23s set this year). This is an unfortunate consequence of having recruited the older Americans to Team Nigeria, and one can only hope that this young man will get his fair chance to represent Nigeria in the individual 100 metres soon. He should complete Nigeria’s quartet in the 4×100 metres which should now be strong enough to win a Commonwealth medal, after disappointing performances from our men’s relay teams in the past few years!

In the 100 metres hurdles, another newly converted Nigerian, Nichole Denby won the title in a time of 13.29s, while last year’s Champion Ugonna Ndu (13.57s) and Amaka Ogoebunam (13.71s), both US-based as well, finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. While Ugonna’s and Amaka’s links to Nigeria are clear from their names alone, Nichole’s link isn’t so obvious – when we caught up with her after her win, she told us that her great-grandfather on her mother’s side was Nigerian! In the 110 hurdles, yet another former US Athlete, Tyron ‘Toritseju’ Akins took the crown in a time of 13.66s, ahead  of UK-based Alex Al-Ameen who posted 13.75s, and Martins Ogieriakhi who ran 13.93s. We caught up with Tyron after his win and he confirmed that you need to have Nigerian heritage  to make the switch and that he was lucky enough to have found a link (deep) in his family tree!

In the past, athletes with clear immediate family links to Nigeria, such as Regina George and Gloria Asumnu, switched allegiance from the USA to Nigeria at different stages of their careers. Regina George especially is an exceptional athlete who represented USA as a junior and made the switch to Team Nigeria even though she was and still is good enough to compete for USA. But this new era of Nigerian Athletics we are currently witnessing is unlike anything we have ever seen before. We’re seeing athletes with questionable, distant links to Nigeria, supposedly in their heritage, switch from the USA to pitch tent for Nigeria in the twilight of their careers, most of whom have never represented USA at the highest level, at major championships.

Should we not be expending a lot more energy and resources ensuring that the best talents in Nigeria, such as Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya and Qatar’s Femi Ogunode, do not switch in the first place? Can these Americans turned Nigerians take us to the promised land, which is to be as good as, or even better than the Americans and Jamaicans in the coming years? Tell us what YOU think. In the meantime, Making of Champions will be bringing you EXCLUSIVE interviews will ALL of the latest recruits to Team Nigeria – watch this space!

11 Responses to “Former Americans DOMINATE on Day 2 of Nigerian Athletics Championships – a SHOCKING new trend in Naija Athletics?”


  1. Regina George beaten by her home-based teammates, as Okagbare completes sprint double on Final Day of Nigerian Trials | Making of Champions - June 22, 2014

    […] will not be lost on Nigeria-based fans and athletes alike, many of whom are still reeling from the surprise appearance and subsequent dominance of recently converted American athletes at these Nigeri…. American-based athletes have long been considered better than their home-based counterparts, and […]

  2. Nigeria’s new American Athletes – Should they be running for Nigeria??? | Making of Champions - June 30, 2014

    […] recruiting Nigerians who were born and bred in America. The latest swathe of athletes recruited, who waltzed into Nigeria for the first time in their lives to dominate at the Nigerian Trials, would appear to have questionable links to Nigeria at best, completely fabricated at worst. We […]

  3. Are Nigeria’s Mercenary Athletes Eligible to run for Nigeria??? | Sports with Enee - July 6, 2014

    […] recruiting Nigerians who were born and bred in America. The latest swathe of athletes recruited, who waltzed into Nigeria for the first time in their lives to dominate at the Nigerian Trials, would appear to have questionable links to Nigeria at best, completely fabricated at worst. We […]

  4. MAKING OF CHAMPIONS celebrates 1-year anniversary with new LOGO! | Making of Champions - July 16, 2014

    […] Blake, right up to the IAAF President himself, Lamine Diack. Bambo also reported live from the Nigerian National Championships in June, and from March to June he appeared as an athletics pundit in a new weekly segment on the Sports […]

  5. Team Nigeria in medals chase as Commonwealth Games in Glasgow take off!!! | Making of Champions - July 22, 2014

    […] Jelks and Edwards placed first and second in the 100m at the national trials in Calabar last month in 10.23s and 10.39s respectively, and face a Herculean task as far as reaching the podium in Scotland is concerned. Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson ran 9.82s (a WL at the time) in June while Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade (9.97s) and Nesta Carter (9.98s) have also run under 10 seconds, a feat which is still yet to be achieved by a Nigerian sprinter since 2006! Will Nigeria’s American recruits break the nation’s 8-year duck when it comes to sub-10 second sprinting? They would almost certainly have to, to have any realistic hope of coming away with a medal at the Glasgow games!   […]

  6. Nigeria’s American Athletes – Are they good enough to win Commonwealth Medals? Part I | Making of Champions - July 26, 2014

    […] and talk since June at the Nigerian Trials for the Commonwealth Games, which heralded a new era of American Athletes with little or no clear lineage from Nigeria attending and dominating at those Nat…. While there has been widespread disapproval by some former Nigerian Olympians and local coaches […]

  7. Another American, Robert Simmons, switches allegiances to Team Nigeria @ Commonwealth Games | Making of Champions - July 28, 2014

    […] this party, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Nigeria’s new American recruits, who largely dominated proceedings at the Nigerian Trials in June, particularly regarding their eligibility for the Green Passport of Nigeria, and whether they are […]

  8. Can Former American Tyron Akins lead Nigeria to 110m Hurdles Medals @ C’wealth Games? | Making of Champions - July 28, 2014

    […] Akins and Al-Ameen are evenly matched at the moment based on their Season’s Bests, but Akins came out on top at the Nigerian Trials when it mattered, winning in 13.66s, with Al-Ameen second in 13.75s and three-time National Sports […]

  9. Nigeria’s fastest man, Mark Jelks, aiming to become Africa’s fastest man! | Making of Champions - August 7, 2014

    […] in June. That was where Jelks announced his arrival as Nigeria’s new fastest man, as he completely dominated the field on his way to winning the highly coveted men’s 100 metres…. On that occasion, Jelks beat former Champions Ogho-Oghene Egwero and Obinna Metu in dominant […]

  10. ‘Naijamericans’ Mark Jelks & Monzavous Edwards take African 100m Silver & Bronze! | Making of Champions - August 12, 2014

    […] Jelks was not immediately available for comments following the race, perhaps leaving quickly after expecting, but failing to capture the African crown. MAKING OF CHAMPIONS exclusively caught up with Monzavous Edwards later in the day, after he helped Nigeria reach the 4x100m final with the fastest time of 39.51s in the Heats, and he told us what his first medal in Green-White-Green means to him, in the face of the difficult reception he and the other American recruits have received in Nigeria since turning up for the National Trials in June: […]

  11. American Lindsay Lindley becomes Lindsay Weyinme – after getting Nigerian passport through uncle who ‘married in’! | Making of Champions - August 15, 2014

    […] the National Trials in Calabar, where we extensively covered the appearance of the newly recruited Americans to Team Nigeria, we asked the most pertinent question that arose – whether they should even have received Green […]

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