Nigeria in bright start as Athletics takes center stage in Glasgow!

27 Jul

Eight out of the nine athletes representing Nigeria on the first day of Athletics at the Commonwealth Games secured their places in the semi-finals of their respective events on Sunday. In Heat 1 of the women’s 100m, Gloria Asumnu finished second in 11.43s and qualified for the semis behind Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown who led with 11.29s, while Blessing Okagbare dominated Heat 5 with a time of 11.20s and was followed by England’s Asha Philip (11.47s). Home-based athlete Justina Sule was the only casualty on Day One as she finished a distant sixth in Heat 4 with in a time of just 12.00s, more than half a second down from her PB of 11.49s, which she set in Calabar in June.

Asumnu will once again race against Campbell-Brown in the semis on Monday in Heat 2, and will have a good chance of reaching the 100m final if she gets close to her Season’s best of 11.15s. Meanwhile, 100m African record holder, Okagbare will go head to head against Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart in Heat 3. Okagbare looked supremely comfortable in her Heat and is strongly favoured to scale the semi-final and contest for a medal in final, also taking place on Monday!

In the men’s category, Mark Jelks started on a winning note in his debut for Nigeria as he won Heat 3 in 10.28s and qualified for the semis alongside Warren Fraser from the Bahamas (10.31s) and Trinidad & Tobago’s Richard Thompson, the Commonwealth No. 1.this year whom was surprisingly beaten into 3rd with 10.33s. England’s Adam Gemili was the fastest athlete in Round 1, winning Heat 6 in 10.15s, and was followed by runner-up in the National Trials, Monzavous Edwards, also making his first appearance for Nigeria, having recently obtained the green passport. The 33-year old qualified for the semis in a time of 10.40s. Former national champion, Ogho-Oghene Egwero was not left out as he posted 10.38s to move on to the next round along with South Africa’s Akani Simbine who topped Heat 8 with a time of 10.32s.

In the semi-finals, Jelks and Edwards swap their opponents from the 1st Round – Jelks, Nigeria’s current 100m champion, will have his work cut out for him as he takes on Adam Gemili in the semis on Monday, while Edwards will need to make a remarkable improvement if he is to get past Richard Thompson who has an SB of 9.82s. Egwero will go against Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade and another South African, Simon Magakwe, in the semi-finals. Magakwe is the fastest African in the 100m this year with an SB of 9.98s while Egwero has posted a time of 10.18s.

In the women’s 400m, the trio of Regina George, Folashade Abugan and Omolara Omotosho all qualified from the heats to the next round of the competition. Coincidentally, all three athletes finished second in their respective heats. George who competed in Heat 1 returned a time of 53.92s, while Omotosho posted a faster time of 53.02s behind Jamaica’s Stephenie McPherson who led with 52.25s in Heat 4. National champion Abugan trailed behind reigning Commonwealth champion, Amantle Montsho in 52.54s in Heat 5. Montsho looks ready to defend her title as she ran posted the fastest time in the heats, 51.88s.

Abugan faces stiff competition in Monday’s semi-finals, as she will be contending with Christine Day of Jamaica who has run the second fastest time in the Commonwealth this year (50.16s), while compatriot, Omotosho will compete against McPherson who has posted an SB of 50.40s. Two-time national champion Regina George finds herself in a STACKED semi-final that includes TWO of the current  heavyweights in her event, Botswana’s Montsho and Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills, who is ranked No 1 in the Commonwealth this year with 50.05s.

Regina will likely have to do something special (or at least run a fast time to qualify as a fastest loser) to justify her inclusion in the individual 400m in place of namesake (no relation) Patience Okon George who finished above her at the Nigerian Trials in June – watch this space!

 

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