Nigeria’s American Athletes – Are they good enough to win Commonwealth Medals?

26 Jul

There has been much controversy 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 National Championships. While there has been widespread disapproval by some former Nigerian Olympians and local coaches of this new practice of recruiting Americans to represent Nigeria, there has also been a lingering school of thought which has followed the reasoning that, surely if they are better than what we have at home, they should be allowed to represent Nigeria? IF they can win medals for Team Nigeria at international competitions, then why not?

Well, here at MAKING OF CHAMPIONS we have crunched some very interesting numbers, to show you exactly what chance (IF ANY) our new American recruits have of winning medals at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where the Athletics programme is kicking off tomorrow. We have EXCLUSIVELY put together 2014 Commonwealth Athlete rankings to analyse Nigeria’s medal chances in FOUR events that our new Athletes will be competing in – the men’s 100m, 200m, 11om Hurdles, and the women’s 100m Hurdles!

Today, we analyse the chances of Nigeria’s current 100m  Champion, 30-year-old Mark Jelks, and runner-up in both 100m and 200m at the Nigerian trials, 33-year-old Monzavous Edwards, both of whom recently switched allegiances from Team USA to Team Naija. Have they improved Nigeria’s mens sprint pool?

*Divine Oduduru ran a wind-assisted 20.25s (2.3m/s) to win Silver at World Juniors in Eugene on July 25th 2014. Had the wind not been above the 2.0m/s limit for records, he would place 11th in the 200m list!

*Divine ran a wind-assisted 20.25s (2.3 m/s) to win Silver at World Juniors in Eugene on July 25th 2014. Had the wind not been above the 2 m/s limit for records, he would place 11th in the 200m list!

Despite the fact that Jelks is CURRENTLY faster than anyone else on Team Nigeria in the 100 metres, he only places 30th among Commonwealth Athletes in 2014 – ahead of him are EIGHT Jamaicans, SEVEN Brits, FOUR Trinadadians, TWO South Africans, TWO from St Kitts & Nevis and one each from four other countries. Even when you take into account that each country can only enter three athletes per event, it becomes very apparent that Jelks may well struggle to reach the Commonwealth 100m final, let alone win a medal! The odds of Edwards reaching the 100m final are even much slimmer – he’s only ranked 64th amongst Commonwealth athletes this year, and would be very difficult the argue that he is an upgrade from the likes of upcoming 22 year old Seye Ogunlewe, and former Nigerian Champions Egwero and Metu.

Mark 'Amuju' Jelks, 2014 Nigerian 100m Champion, recently switched allegiances from Team USA

Mark ‘Amuju’ Jelks, 2014 Nigerian 100m Champion, recently switched allegiances from Team USA

The emergence of Divine Oduduru with a World Junior Silver in the 200 metres in a stunning wind-assisted time of 20.25s also further calls into question the necessity (or indeed the wisdom) of recruiting older Americans to represent Nigeria. Oduduru, who could be representing Nigeria for another ten years or more, had already comfortably beaten 33-year-old Edwards at the Nigeria Trials with a time of 20.87s to 21.34s, a time that does not even rank Edwards in the top 100 in the Commonwealth for 200 metres this year – indeed only one year in his whole career did he run faster than 20.40s (he has a 20.17s PB from 2009). It would be surprising to see Edwards make it out of Round 1 in Glasgow, if he indeed attempts the 200 metres this week. There are already calls for Oduduru to be flown directly from Glasgow to Eugene to compete in the 200 metres which starts on Wednesday, so that Nigeria could have a decent showing in the event!

Monzavous 'Jolomi' Edwards, recently switched allegiances from Team USA, and placed second in the 100 metres at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

Monzavous ‘Jolomi’ Edwards, recently switched allegiances from Team USA, and placed second in the 100 metres at the 2014 Nigerian Trials

Finally, given all the countries listed above who have TWO or more athletes in the 100m Top 30 (Jamaica, England, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa, St Kitts & Nevis) and even the Bahamas who has THREE in the top 35, we have to say that it is also rather unlikely that Nigeria will get a medal in the men’s 4x100m Relay next weekend, and the presence of the Americans does absolutely nothing to change that…

MoC PREDICTIONS for the men’s sprints:

Men’s 100 metres – Jelks could scrape into the 100m final in Glasgow, but a semi-final outing is most likely. Egwero & Edwards should reach the Semis too, but one of them may fall in the first round!

Men’s 200 metres – Edwards will not make it out of the first round, especially if he has contested the 100 metres already. Oduduru could possibly make the Semis, but will also fall in the 1st round IF he doesn’t arrive in Glasgow well ahead of Wednesday to get some much needed rest.

Men’s 4×100 metres – With or without the Americans in the squad, Team Nigeria should reach the final, but without some unexpected baton drops or lane infringements from 2 or 3 countries ahead of us, don’t expect a medal. Stranger things have happened we suppose, so one can still hope!

MoC VERDICT: The American recruits have NOT sufficiently improved Nigeria’s mens sprint pool to really justify their inclusion. We will stand corrected if they are able to prove our predictions wrong in the coming days!

 

 

 

7 Responses to “Nigeria’s American Athletes – Are they good enough to win Commonwealth Medals?”

  1. bigk2008 July 26, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Makingofchampions is becoming too negative in its review/appraisal of these Athletes. Nigerians are switching allegiance to other countries, so why are we beating ourselves up when others switch allegiance to Nigeria? What matters is that they represent US and we must support them. Period.

  2. bigk2008 July 26, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Makingofchampions is becoming too negative in its review and appraisal of these foreign-born athletes. Nigerians are switching allegiance to other countries, so why are we beating ourselves up when others switch allegiance to Nigeria? They came to Nigeria to compete and win. It would have been different if they were drafted to upstage better-qualified athletes. What matters is that they represent US and we must support them. Period.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Team Nigeria Guide to 2014 Commonwealth Games Athletics – DAY 1 (Sunday July 27th) | Making of Champions - July 27, 2014

    […] See Making of Champions’ men’s 100m Commonwealth rankings and analysis here! […]

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

    […] Trials in June, particularly regarding their eligibility for the Green Passport of Nigeria, and whether they are good enough to win global medals for Nigeria. According to Simmons’ IAAF Profile, he has a PB of 45.19s set this season, which places him […]

  3. Team Nigeria Guide to 2014 CWG Athletics – DAY 2 (Monday July 28th) | Making of Champions - July 28, 2014

    […] See Making of Champions’ men’s 100m Commonwealth rankings and analysis here! […]

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

    […] of whether the recently recruited Americans had improved Nigeria’s 100m sprinting pool and whether they could help Team Nigeria to win Commonwealth Medals, and today we’re asking the same question for the 110m hurdles. At MAKING OF CHAMPIONS, we […]

  5. Nigeria’s Americans fail to get 100m, 400m & 110m Hurdles COMMONWEALTH Medals – Why did we recruit them again? | Making of Champions - July 29, 2014

    […] this then begets the question we asked at the start of the week – were any of the recruited Americans really good enough to win Commonwealth GOLD in the first place? And if they are not good enough at THIS LEVEL, what on earth will happen […]

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