Tag Archives: Commonwealth

Commonwealth Champion ESE BRUME set to become Africa’s Long Jump Queen!

9 Aug

Nigeria’s emerging long jump queen, Ese Brume may be heading for her first title in the African Senior Athletics Championships, going by her exploits at the recently ended Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where she won the GOLD medal, much to the surprise of keen athletics observers around the world!

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Brume is not a stranger to winning titles though, as she won the Long Jump and took Silver in the Triple Jump at the African Junior Championships in Mauritius last year. She is the reigning National Sports Festival Champion, a feat which brought her to national limelight in 2012. She also emerged 2014 Nigerian champion at the National Trials with a PB of 6.68m set in Calabar.

However, her outing in Glasgow stunned most observers as Brume, who was at the bottom of the qualifiers at the IAAF World Junior Championships with 5.18m only a week earlier, suddenly transformed into the Commonwealth Champion with a jump of 6.56m. Her performance in the Qualifying rounds in Glasgow did little to hint at  her potential to win the title, as she only just qualified for the final in 12th with a distance of 6.29m.

In the final, the home nations’ favourite for the title, England’s Shara Proctor suffered an injury while attempting her first jump, which ruled her out of the competition, thus paving way for the Nigerian sensation to clinch her first Commonwealth title. Hence the Delta State athlete emerged as one of the surprise Champions of the tournament, following the absence of 2013 World Silver Medallist and Commonwealth’s No.2 this year, Blessing Okagbare, who would have been favourite to win if she had competed, going by her pedigree in the event.

With Okagabre, Africa’s No. 1 Long Jumper, also not listed for the Long Jump at these African Championships, she seems set not to defend her African Long Jump Title which she won at the last two editions, most recently with a Championship Record of 6.96m in Benin Republic in 2012. That notwithstanding, Nigeria still looks likely to clinch at least two medals in the event, with the participation of both Ese Brume and Chinazom Amadi, Nigeria’s No. 3 and African No. 4 in the event, with 6.39m this season. 

Can Brume jump her way into the history books by becoming the Reigning National, African (both Senior and Junior) and Commonwealth Long Jump Champion all in one swoop? Watch out for her as the 19th African Senior Athletics Championships take off from August 10th to 14th!

 Long Jump Women’s Schedule: August 11th, Qualification Rounds at 10am, August 12th, Final at 8.10pm

(NB: This program is liable to change according to the number of participants and the local conditions)

African womens long jump list copy

 

Blessing Okagbare opts out of Long Jump to chase 200m GLORY @ C’wealth Games!

30 Jul

Blessing Okagbare fans could well be in for a treat and a complete spectacle in the women’s 200m at the Commonwealth Games, as the newly crowned 100m Commonwealth Champion is the red hot favourite to complete the sprint double with the 200 metre crown on Thursday night! Such is Blessing’s class beyond the rest of the Commonwealth field in the 200m, that it may simply be Blessing versus the clock. She took Debbie Ferguson’s 100m Commonwealth Games Record on Monday night, and may just take the same woman’s 200m Games Record (22.20s) on Thursday. The big question is: does Blessing just want the GOLD, or does she want to lay down a marker for years to come, by attacking Mary Onyali’s 18-year-old 200m African Record of 22.07 seconds?

Okagbare has been imperious form in the 200m this year, having made it her event of focus recently, despite starting out as a long jumper and then a 100m sprinter. She is 2nd fastest in the world this year with a PB of 22.23s, behind USA’s Tori Bowie (22.18s), she holds FOUR of the 10 fastest times this season and is leading the 200m Diamond Race. Her closest Commonwealth  competitor is Anthonique Strachan, the 2012 Double World Junior Champion and 9th fastest in the world this year with 22.50s, but she has inexplicably not been entered for the 200m – one imagines it could only be due to injury:

2014 CWG Womens 200 list FINAL

That leaves her main threat once again most likely to come from the Jamaicans – McLaughlin, Henry-Robinson and Calvert, who are 6th, 11th and 13th respectively in the Commonwealth this season, but ALL half a second slower than Okagbare. England’s Jodie Williams is the fastest Commonwealth athlete after Blessing competing in the 200m, after setting a PB of 22.60s this season, and while Williams will be a home nations favourite for a medal, she will almost certainly be fighting with the Jamaicans for Silver and Bronze!

An interesting sub-plot is Dominique Duncan’s first outing in an individual event for Nigeria, after switching from Team USA and coming within a hundredth of second to 4x100m Bronze at the World Relays with Team Nigeria! She’s No. 10 in the Commonwealth this year with a PB of 22.82s in April, and if she can replicate that she could also be in amongst the medals. That said, she only ran 23.91s in placing 3rd at the Nigerian Trials in June, so it will be interesting to see what kind of form she is coming into the Games with!

Some Okagbare fans will be disappointed to learn that she opted NOT to compete in the Long Jump at these Games – her compatriot Ese Brume competed in the Heats for that event on Wednesday morning, qualifying for the finals which will take place on Thursday evening, in between the women’s 200 metres semis and finals! From a scheduling point of view, it would have been virtually impossible for Okagbare to attempt TWO 200m races and SIX jumps in the Long Jump on the same night! She has taken the wisest decision, as the sprint double will be the far more widely recognised feat than the 100m and Long Jump combination!

One might recall that last year, Blessing failed to win a 100m medal in the World Championship final because she had taken 6 jumps the night before to win Long Jump Silver, and didn’t have enough time to recover to successfully execute two rounds of the 100m the next day. Clearly, the ‘scheduling gods’ are not working in her favour – global meet organisers will have to accord her the same privilege that they once showed to the likes of Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, arranging their schedules around these superstars, if we’re ever going to see her attempt to go for THREE individual medals at major competitions!

Blessing is already Africa’s fastest woman ever in the 100m after smashing Glory Alozie’s 14-year-old record last year. The big question on Thursday will be, does she want a ‘Double Portion’ and take the 200m African Record as well? With her 10.85 second 100-metre speed in awesome display on Monday, something tells us that if Blessing decides she wants to re-write the 200 metre history books on Thursday night, she just might!

MoC PREDICTION: Barring injury, Nigeria’s favourite daughter Blessing Okagbare will WIN 200m GOLD on Thursday night, and could get the Commonwealth Games Record of 22.20s, but she might not yet be ready to break Mary Onyali’s African Record (22.07s). Even if she doesn’t get the record, we may  be about to witness the BIGGEST EVER winning margin in a global 200m final, since a certain Usain Bolt, ofcourse!

Dominique Duncan should make the final of the 200 metres, and getting a medal would be a huge boost for the 24-year-old. But can she put three rounds of 200 metres together in two days and run fast enough in the final to be in medal contention? The honest truth is that we have not seen enough of her to make a firm prediction on that just yet!

Round 1 of the Commonwealth Games 200 metres kicks off TONIGHT (Wednesday), with Blessing Okagbare in Heat 1 at 9.15pm and Dominique Duncan in Heat 6 at 9.45pmDON’T MISS IT!

The semi-finals start at 6.07pm on Thursday, with the Final shortly after at 8.45pm!

 

 

Mixed fortunes for Nigeria as Abugan makes 400m Commonwealth Games Final

29 Jul

Team Nigeria’s conquest for medals took a dramatic turn on Day 2 of athletics at the Hampden Park in Glasgow as Nigeria’s No.1, Folashade Abugan was the only one of three athletes to qualify from the semi-finals of the women’s 400m at the ongoing Commonwealth Games, through to the final on Tuesday night.

Abugan competed in Heat 2 of the semis, and missed out on automatic qualification as she finished third behind Jamaica’s Christine Day (51.02) and Shaunae Miller of the Bahamas in 2nd with 51.58s. However Abugan’s time of 51.71s qualified her as one of the fastest losers, along with Kineke Alexander of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who posted 52.12s behind Abugan.

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria's 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the  Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Folashade Abugan at the World Relays in the Bahamas. She is Nigeria’s 400m Champion in 2014, winning at the Nigerian National Championships in 51.39s!

Unfortunately, her compatriots, Omolara Omotosho and Regina George had no such luck as they both failed to make it to the final, after finishing 3rd and 6th respectively. Omotosho competed in Heat 1 and came agonizingly close to automatic qualification; she however missed out on a place in the final as she finished 3rd in 52.34s, trailing Jamaica’s Stephanie McPherson (50.69s) and Kelly Massey of England (52.19s) who beat her near the line as she started to tie up and lose her form in the final straight. 

More surprising was the performance of Regina George who finished a distant sixth with 53.48s in Heat 3 which was won by the Commonwealth’s top athlete, Novlene Williams-Mills in 50.73s. The Jamaican was followed by defending champion, Amantle Montsho (50.96s) and England’s Margaret Adeoye who returned a time of 52.48s in 3rd. George, the darling of many Nigerian fans could not replicate the form that saw her inspire Nigeria to a bronze medal finish at the inaugural edition of the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas earlier this year. Rumour has it that the 22-year old was carrying an injury after the heats, and as such couldn’t post a performance deserving of a place in the final. One wonders though why she was picked ahead of Patience Okon George, who finished ahead of her in the National Trials in third place, and really ought to have run the individual 400m, unless she was injured!

Abugan will be engaged in the battle for supremacy ahead of Tuesday’s final when she goes against a star-studded field which includes Williams-Mills, Day and Montsho (1st, 2nd and 3rd fastest in the Commonwealth this year). She comes to the field with the second slowest time and will need to extra inspiration if she is to get to the podium on Tuesday. As we predicted yesterday, Abugan was the surest bet to reach the final, and is so doing confirms her position as Nigeria’s No. 1 this year. She will have to watch out for the Jamaicans who coincidentally dominated the various heats. Can she pull of the same kind of upset that saw her dethrone Regina George as national champion?

 

Okagbare faces stiff test for 100m Commonwealth GOLD, Asumnu is a possible finalist!

26 Jul

Exactly 20 years ago, one of the country’s most outstanding athletes, Mary Onyali returned a time of 11.06secs to win the women’s 100m at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, and Nigeria’s sprint queen, Blessing Okagbare will be aiming for same as Athletics takes off in Glasgow on Sunday.

However, Okagbare, who is the nation’s brightest prospect at the games, will have her work cut out for her as she goes head-to-head with Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye and Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown in a bid to secure her first Commonwealth Games title two decades after a Nigerian last won the crown.

Compatriot, Damola Osayomi won the 100m in Delhi four years ago but had to be stripped of the medal and banned after her doping test came back positive for the stimulant methylhexanamine, while Natasha Mayers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was elevated to first position.

Okagbare recently ran a Season’s Best (SB) of 10.97secs at the Monaco Diamond League, but Ahye is unbeaten in the 100m this season, as is  USA’s Tori Bowie, who currently World Leader this year with 10.80secs. Ahye tops the Commonwealth ranking with the world’s second fastest time of 10.85s, while Campbell-Brown follows closely with 10.86s:

2014 CWG Womens 100 list copy

Even though Okagbare comes to the competition with the third fastest time, she could still storm to gold at the Hampden Park on Monday if she is able to rediscover the form that saw her lower the African 100m record to 10.79s – that time would almost certainly claim GOLD but given that Blessing has been concentrating on the 200 metres this season, this might have had an effect on both her speed and her confidence to claim the 100m crown!

Fellow Nigerian Gloria Asumnu also looks like a good bet for the 100m final as she occupies the 13th position in Commonwealth with a time of 11.15secs – even though EIGHT of the athletes ahead of her are Jamaican, only 3 of them can compete at the Games!

MoC PREDICTION: Our heart say GOLD for Blessing, but our head says it will be Silver or Bronze in the 100 metres. Gloria will do well to get to the final, but a medal will be out of her reach, unless she can run a PB and go under 11 seconds.

The good news is, with these two in our 4x100m team, they should be in good shape for a Relay medal next weekend! (Silver or Bronze – Jamaica will get the GOLD, unless they drop the baton or are disqualified)!

 

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!

 

 

 

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