Tag Archives: Jamaica

Team Nigeria to spearhead Africa’s 4x100m medal hopes @ Continental Cup

12 Sep

Nigeria’s GOLD winning team in the men’s 4x100m relay at the 2014 African Senior Championships in Marrakech are the sole bearers of Team Africa’s hopes in the event at the IAAF Continental Cup holding in Morocco this weekend.

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This season has been a long one for the team which participated first at the IAAF World Relays in May without a medal, and then the Commonwealth Games where they ran alongside world leaders, Jamaica in the heats and final. National 100m champion, Mark Jelks anchored the team to second position in the heats, just behind Jamaica which had the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt in action. They eventually finished a sixth in a final which was won by the Jamaicans in a scorching 37.58s.

It was an entirely different story at the African Championships as the Nigerian quartet comprising of Ogho-Oghene Egwero (No. 90 in the world this season with 10.18s), Monzavous Edwards (No. 78), Obinna Metu (No. 173 with 10.28s) and Jelks (No. 35) who was the anchor once again, dominated the event by clocking a Season’s Best (SB) of 38.80s ahead of Ghana (39.28s) and the Algerian team which sprinted to a National Record (NR) of 39.89s.

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Jelks and Edwards finished second and third respectively in the men’s 100m with SBs of 10.07s and 10.16s respectively, while the title was won by Cote d’Ivoire’s Hua Wilfried Koffi with an NR and Personal Best (PB) of 10.05s. However the 4x100m team would be without the services of Koffi who will focus on the sprint double at the forthcoming event. The Nigerian team is 34th on the 2014 IAAF 4x100m Relay rankings.

The Americas team comes with an intimidating CV, having the likes of Richard Thompson (No. 2 with 9.82s), Michael Rodgers (No. 4 with 9.91s), Jamaica’s Nesta Carter (No. 8 with 9.96s) and veteran Kim Collins (No. 8 with 9.96s). All four athletes have done a sub-10 this season and are certainly the team to beat – it will be interesting to see how they do with their baton exchanges, given that the quadrennial continental cup is the only major competition that could see these sprinters of different nations competing on the same team!

European champions, Team GB, will represent the continent in Marrakech. They won the continental crown in a very strong 37.93s. It comprises of Harry Aikines-Aryeetey (No. 40 with 10.08s), James Ellington (No. 59 with 12.13s), Richard Kilty (No. 51 with 10.12s) and Danny Talbot (No. 87 in 10.17s) – they will be expected to put up a good fight for the podium as the team ranks second on the 2014 IAAF rankings behind Jamaica.

Asian champions and world No. 10 relay team Japan, with an SB of 38.34s, will be representing Team Asian-Pacific and is made up of Masaharu Mori, Masafumi Naoki, Yu Onabuta, Kazuma Oseto (No. 141 with 10.25s) and Kotaro Taniguchi. Amongst the four teams, it would seem that Team Africa are the underdogs, give them times each team has run this season, so it will be interesting to see if they can cause an upset!

 

The IAAF Continental Cup will be taking place in Marrakech, Morocco THIS WEEKEND (Sept 13th & 14th), and Team Nigeria will be representing Africa in the men’s 4x100m on Saturday Sept 13th at 9.55pm!

Day 1 is LIVE on SuperSport 2 from 6.20-10.10pm. Day 2 is LIVE on SuperSport 6 from 5.20-9.10pm!

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Nigeria’s Americans fail to get 100m, 400m & 110m Hurdles COMMONWEALTH Medals – Why did we recruit them again?

29 Jul

Nigeria’s hopes of securing a Commonwealth medal in the men’s 100m ended last night at Hampden Park in Glasgow, as the country’s sole finalist Mark Jelks finished in fifth place in 10.17s. The title was won by Jamaica’s Kemar Bailey-Cole who stormed to gold in 10.00s flat and was closely followed by England’s Adam Gemili in 10.10s, to the clear delight of himself and the home crowd, while another Jamaican, Nickel Ashmeade got the bronze in 10.12s.

This is Jelk’s first outing for Nigeria, having recently switched allegiance from the US and though the 30-year-old was hoping for a podium finish, his efforts are nonetheless commendable, going by the fact that he was the only African in the final that boasted of three Jamaicans, amongst others. Jelks, who emerged National Champion at the Nigeria’s trials earlier this year was entered to the 100m alongside another newly acquired American athlete, 33-year-old Monzavous Edwards who finished 2nd in the trials, and Ogho-Oghene Egwero, 3rd at the trials. The duo however fell by the wayside, with Egwero finishing 8th in his semi-final with 10.40s while Edwards didn’t fare much better, trailing in 7th in his semi with 10.30s. Jelks had qualified for the final as one of the fastest losers in the semis where he posted a time of 10.13s.

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

In the absence of some of the tournament favourites and leading names such as Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson, No. 1 in the Commonwealth this year with 9.82s but failed to progress to the final, and Jamaica’s Nesta Carter (SB 9.98s), Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and the big man himself Usain Bolt, one would have expected the newly converted athletes to have at least made an impact, going by the controversy that has trailed their acquisition of the Nigerian passport and their subsequent selection to Team Nigeria. One of them, Robert Simmons, did not even need to appear at the Nigerian Trials to suit up for his new country yesterday in the 400 metres, thus calling the whole selection process into question. Incidentally, he failed to finish his 400m heat, pulling up half way through due to injury!

Robbert Simmons, formerly of Team USA, now of Team Nigeria!

Robbert Simmons, formerly of Team USA, now of Team Nigeria!

In the 110m Hurdles on Tuesday morning, another American recruit, 28-year-old Tyron Akins, crashed out of the 110m Hurdles after finishing 4th in Heat 2 in a time of 13.75s. Akins won the Nigerian title at the trials in June, and at his best about 6 years ago he was a 13.25s runner. Former Team GB athlete Alex Al-Ameen, who qualifies to for the Green Passport by virtue of his Nigerian father, just scraped through to the final, qualifying as one of the fastest loser’s from Heat 1 in a time of 13.71s. As we predicted yesterday in our analysis, Akins and Al-Ameen were likely competing for one fastest loser spot, and that proved to be the case. Though Al-Ameen’s chances of making an impact in the final are slim to none, the 25-year-old should be encouraged as an athlete who COULD improve for Team Nigeria over the next 5 years!

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All 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 when Team USA is in the mix, and Jamaica’s A-team return for the World Championships and Olympics in the next 2 years? Does Nigeria really need to adopt this strategy of recruiting older American athletes rather than developing our own future stars? Have they really justified their inclusion into the team? Should we not have allowed the likes of 22-year old Seye Ogunlewe, Nigeria’s best young sprint talent, the opportunity to experience individual 100m sprinting at the Commonwealth Games, while grooming him for years to come?

The jury is out on this one, but they have very nearly reached a verdict already, after just THREE days of Athletics action at the Games. The last of Nigeria’s  American recruits is Nichole Denby, who competes in the 100m Hurdles on Thursday. Can she fare any better? We won’t have long to wait to find out.

 

Okagbare slips in Lausanne 100m, but returns for the Paris Diamond League 200m tomorrow!

4 Jul

Blessing Okagbare’s much awaited return to Diamond League action in Lausanne last night proved to be an anti-climax, as she stumbled out of her blocks and opted not to finish the race, as it was clear that she had lost it in the first few strides. Trinidad & Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye, who is quickly emerging as Blessing’s main rival for the 100m Commonwealth GOLD, took full advantage and raced to victory in 10.98 seconds, with Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahouré second in a photo finish with the same time! Following the the late withdrawals of Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and USA’s Tori Bowie from the race, the path had seemed clear for an Okagbare victory, but her slip put paid to those hopes, though after her trip she would have been more concerned with staying injury-free rather than finishing the race – and rightly so!

The biggest story of the night was undoubtedly the men’s 100 metres, which saw the return of Tyson Gay from his well-publicised 1 year drug ban, a punishment that many in the Athletics world have felt was too lenient. Tyson Gay ran 9.93s on his return, placing second in an American 1-2-3, with Justin  Gatlin winning with a new world leading (WL) time this season of 9.80s and Mike Rodgers third in 9.98s – ALL THREE of them have served drug bans at some stage of their careers! Kirani James and LeShawn Merritt continued their intriguing 400m rivalry, with James coming out on top this time in 43.74s (a new WL, PB and National Record for Grenada!), with Merritt 2nd in an Season’s Best (SB) of 43.92s. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake finished  a disappointing 6th in the 200m in 20.48s, with Panama’s Alonso Edward winning in 19.84s (SB), while Qatar’s Nigerian-born Femi Ogunode was 5th in 20.25s.

Thankfully, Okagbare fans will not have to wait long to see her in action again, as she will appear in the 200 metres at the Paris Diamond League tomorrow (Saturday July 5th)! Once again, it is a loaded field and Blessing will to be on the very top of her game to best the likes of USA’s Multiple World and Olympic 200m Champion, Alyson Felix and Jamaica’s Current 200m World Champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, though the latter has struggled for form this season. Tori Bowie is also on the start-list in Paris, and she will certainly be a threat to Okagbare’s hopes of winning this – one might recall that in her very first Diamond League 200m race after switching events from the Long Jump, Bowie shocked Okagbare and the rest of the field from Lane 1 in Eugene!

In other events holding at the ‘Meeting Areva’ in the Stade de France tomorrow, Okagbare has again opted not to participate in the long jump event that will see the likes of reigning Olympic and World champion, Brittney Reese, Tianna Bartoletta and Funmi Jimoh (all of USA). Former 400m World champion, Amantle Montsho, is still trying to find her best form this season (SB 50.37s) and will race in the keenly contested women’s 400m, alongside USA’s Olympic Champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who has run sub-50 this season (SB 49.66s), as well as Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills, who has posted an impressive time of 50.05s this season.

There is an interesting inclusion in the men’s 100m as a British athlete with Nigerian roots, Chijindu Ujah, is set to make his Diamond League debut. The 100m Champion at the 2013 European Junior Championships recently broke the 10 second barrier with a time of 9.96sec in Hengelo, Holland last month, making him the third fastest Brit in history! He will go against the world’s fastest man this season, Richard Thompson (9.82s) from Trinidad and Tobago, and the likes of veteran former World Champion Kim Collins and the Jamaican trio of Nickel Ashmaede, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nesta Carter!

For Nigerian viewers, SuperSport 6 (DSTV Channel 206) will show the Meeting Areva (Paris Diamond League) LIVE from 7-9pm on Saturday July 5th. Blessing Okagbare goes in the women’s 200 metres at 7.42pm – Don’t miss it!

 

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

 

 

Yohan Blake leads Jamaica to break 20-year old 4×200 metre WORLD RECORD!!

25 May

The highlight of the 1st night of the World Relays was the World Record in the 4×200 metres set by the Jamaicans, despite the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt being absent! Yohan Blake anchored the Jamaica team home in 1:18.63 in the seldom run event (Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir and Jermaine Brown complete the quartet), shaving off 0.05s from the former World Record, which was set in 1994 by a Carl Lewis-led USA team!

Jamaica clearly came with a plan to break this record, and hence take home the extra $50,000 for a World Record, in addition to the $50,000 earned for winning the race! Imagine how much lower they can bring this down, if Usain Bolt decides to turn out for the World Relays next year!

St Kitts & Nevis took a surprising 2nd in 1:20.51, while France celebrated the Bronze in 1:20.56, after Team USA was disqualified for a botched changeover outside the zone. Team Nigeria failed to record a time in the event, after Nigeria’s number 1 male sprinter Ogho-Oghene Egwero limped off injured in the 2nd leg of the Heats earlier in the day. Considering that this is Nigeria’s first time in history competing in the 4×200 metres, any kind of finish would have become a new National Record!

 

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