Tag Archives: Nigeria

American Lindsay Lindley becomes Lindsay Weyinme – after getting Nigerian passport through uncle who ‘married in’!

15 Aug

Hey, would you like a passport in 24 hours to compete for Nigeria? Apparently we’re giving them out to anyone who’ll accept the offer…

The African Championships rounded up on Thursday night, and the big surprise for Nigeria fans during the week-long competition was the sudden appearance of new girl Lindsay Weyinme in Green-White-Green of Team Naija. We caught up with her after the 100m Hurdles final where she finished 4th, and this is what she had to say about how she was recruited to Team Nigeria (captured on camera by AthleticsAfrica):

Following 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 Passport in the first place, given that Nigeria citizenship law clearly states that one must have at least ONE Nigerian parent to naturalise, if you were not born in Nigeria. Never in the history of Nigeria has any foreigner EVER received the passport because their great-grandparent or great-great grandparent was Nigerian, as some of them have claimed is their link to Nigeria.

All of this makes Weyinme’s claim as to how she got the Nigerian Passport even more startling. Is there any country in the whole world where you can become a citizen because your UNCLE MARRIED someone from that country? Not you, but your uncle? It’s such brazen disregard for Nigerian Law that one can only assume this young lady and her ‘Naijamerican’ colleagues have been rather misinformed and ill-advised in this whole situation.

Let’s not even get into the fact that she did not even attend the Nigerian Trials so her selection on the team is a big surprise, to say the least. This is the same situation with Robert Simmons, who also did not attend the trials, and has done little to justify his inclusion on the team, after not finishing his 400m race at the Commonwealth Games, and false starting earlier this week at these African Championships. The integrity of our whole selection process is at stake here.

It did not take long for more news on Wenyime’s background to emerge in online fan forums in Nigeria. It turns out that her real name is Lindsay Lindley, and it is likely that she was given the name Weyinme during the process of naturalising. Interestingly, the other Americans recruited to Team Nigeria have been given Delta middle names, such as Mark ‘Amuju’ Jelks, Monzavous ‘Jolomi’ Edwards, Tyron ‘Toritseju’ Akins, and so on.

They are all set to represent Delta State at the upcoming National Sports Festival, which just happens to be the first National Sports Festival that is open to foreign-based Nigerians, a classification which they now fall under. Which begs the question – is their recruitment really about making Team Nigeria better, or is it about Delta State winning the National Sports Festival? What becomes of them after the Festival? Only time will tell.

One thing is certain – it is very IMPORTANT that Nigerians do NOT direct any ill-feelings towards these athletes, who are merely embracing an opportunity that has been accorded them to advance their careers as Nigerians. What’s done is done, so they should be supported for whatever time they have left as Team Nigeria athletes (the majority of them are over 30), BUT as a people we need to make sure that we protect the integrity of the Nigerian passport, and what it means to represent this great nation – our immigration services has clearly dropped the ball here.

What’s next if we don’t close the loop on this? Someone will say their friend’s sister’s aunty-in-law is Nigerian and that’s how they got the passport? Essentially, almost anybody in the world can get a Nigerian passport in 24 hours to compete for us. You would think that this MIGHT be acceptable if we were talking about world-class, exceptional talents, but so far they have not improved Team Nigeria – at the Commonwealth Games only one of the recruits got a RELAY medal, while at these African Championships only one of them got an individual GOLD, which we still would have won anyway if they were not there, as we swept all the medals in that event. We even lost our Continental Crown to South Africa, winning only 8 gold medals this time around, as opposed to 10 in Porto Novo 2 years ago!

When all is said and done, this is not even about the recruits, and we want to re-iterate that we harbour no ill-feelings towards them, and we will celebrate whatever medals they can win for Team Nigeria at any level. What this is really about is how we see ourselves as a nation and a people. We need now to look deeply within, at our system, to make sure that born and bred Nigerians get the SAME opportunities, SAME privileges, and SAME funding as the American Recruits, because if that were to happen, Nigeria WILL surpass Jamaica & USA as the dominant force in World Athletics. It would only be a matter of time. Watch this space.

Marrakech ’14 Day 4 RECAP: Tosin Oke settles for Silver in Triple Jump as Oduduru, Asumnu reach 200m finals!

13 Aug

Five-time national triple jump champion, Tosin Oke had to make do with Silver for the second time in as many weeks as he was beaten to gold by South Africa’s Godfrey Mokoena on Wednesday at the African Athletics Championships in Marrakech.

Oke, the defending champion, had won the title back to back (in Kenya four years ago and the last edition in Port Novo in 2012), but could not out-leap Mokoena who won gold with 17.03m which he secured in his very first jump of the evening. Oke made a leap of 16.96m in his second attempt and improved on it by 1cm in his very last attempt, which is his Season’s Best (SB).

The duo met in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games less than a fortnight ago where the South African also stripped his Nigerian counterpart of his Commonwealth title with a distance of 17.20m, while Oke followed in second position in 16.84m. Thankfully though, he will still get to compete at the IAAF Continental Cup slated to hold between September 13 and 14 in Marrakech. His team mate and Nigeria’s No.2, Olu Olamigoke finished in sixth position with 16.18m. He narrowly missed out on a medal in Glasgow where he finished fourth with a distance of 16.56m.

Nigeria’s best prospect for a medal in the men’s 200m, Divine Oduduru qualified for the final of the men’s 200m, having finished second in the semi-finals and first in the heats ahead of Cote d’Ivoire’s Wilfried Koffi Hua. He has set up an explosive meeting with the Ivoirian who is the newly crowned African 100m Champion as well Africa’s No.1, Isaac Makwala who has returned 19.96s this season. Mark Jelks and Seye Ogunlewe also took part in the heats but pulled out of the semis for undisclosed reasons.

The trio of Gloria Asumnu, Dominique Duncan and Regina George all qualified for the women’s 200m final which promises to be a Nigeria versus Cote d’Ivoire final as double World Championships Silver Medallist and Africa’s No.2, Murielle Ahouré and Marie Ta Lou Gonezie will be aiming for the top two spots. Following the absence of Blessing Okagbare who pulled out of the 200m and would have been the major contender for gold, the focus will mostly be on houré who looks good for GOLD as she virtually jogged through the heats and semis. However her compatriot, Lou Gonezie looks in fine form to possibly deny Asumnu and the other Nigerians a medal spot, as she has the fastest time from the semis, 23.03s.

Amaka Ogoegbunam easily sailed through the heats in the 400m hurdles and has positioned herself for gold, wining her heat with 56.49s ahead of Morocco’s Hayat Lambarki who is a former African Champion. Her time was also the second fastest in the heats, though compatriot Kemi Francis wasn’t as lucky as she finished seventh in Heat 2 in 1:01.42. Abiye David placed third in her heat in 2:08.58, behind Kenya’s Eunice Sum and Ethiopia’s Lidiya Melese in the women’s 800m, which wasn’t good enough to see her through to the final.

Nigeria moved one place down on the medals table as South Africa regained the top position with eight gold, five silver and two bronze medals. Nigeria follows with seven gold, six silver and five bronze medals while Kenya is third with two gold gold, one silver and five bronze medals.

On Thursday which is the final day of competition, Nigeria will compete in the women’s shot put, women’s triple jump, women’s 400m hurdles, men and women’s 200m and men and women’s 4x400m relays.

Nigeria in African 110m Hurdles CLEAN SWEEP as Akins, Al-Ameen & Ogierakhi win GOLD, Silver & Bronze!

13 Aug

Nigeria’s 110m hurdlers made a clean sweep of the medals in the event on Wednesday night, leaving their Algerian, South African and Malian rivals trailing in their wake on Day Four of competition at the African Senior Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.

National champion, Tyron Akins confirmed his status as the athlete to beat as he claimed his first African title in his debut outing at the championships, and only his second for Nigeria, with 13.57s. This follows his participation at the Commonwealth games where he just missed out on the Finals. He came to Marrakech as No.3 on the African list for 2014 but upstaged the rest of the field to clinch the title. The last time Nigeria won the 110m hurdles was in 1996 when national record holder in the event, William Erese mounted the podium in Yaounde, Cameroun!

Another new Nigerian athlete, Alex Al-Ameen, who was Nigeria’s No.2 from the National Trials, won silver in 13.78s. He came to the championship as the continent’s 2nd fastest athlete this year, behind Algeria’s Lyes Mokddel who competed in the heats but didn’t show up for the final. Al-Ameen competed in the Commonwealth Games and put up an impressive performance to get to the final of the event where he finished in seventh.

The only home-based athlete amongst them and Nigeria’s No.3, Martins Ogierakhi clocked 13.80s to secure the bronze medal. Ogierakhi holds the top position on the home front as he won all legs of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Golden League and was one of the winners of the much anticipated N2million jackpot. He is also the winner of the last three editions for the National Sports Festival in Nigeria, which will be opened to foreign-based Nigerians for the very first time this year! He’ll have his hands full this time around with Akins and Al-Ameen in the mix!

Unfortunately, only Akins will fly Nigeria’s flag at the forthcoming IAAF Continental Cup, which incidentally holds in Marrakech, as only two athletes represent the continent in each event, and they cannot be from the same country!

Super Tuesday in Marrakech as Nigeria grabs 5 GOLDS to top medals table after Day 3 of African Champs!

13 Aug

Tuesday was a busy evening for Athletics at the African Championships in Marrakech, as Team Nigeria went from winning 1 GOLD on Monday night (Blessing Okagbare in the 100 metres), to winning a whooping FIVE in one evening! This takes Nigeria straight to the top of the medal standings after 3 days, and the nation looks well on course to come close to equalling the 10 GOLD medal haul from the last championships in Benin in 2012!

MEDALS STANDINGS AFTER DAY 3
1. Nigeria 6 gold, 4 silver, 4 bronze
2. South Africa 5 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze
3. Kenya 2 gold, 1 silver, 5 bronze
4. Botswana 2 gold,
5. Ethiopia 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze

Indeed, it was medals galore on Tuesday, as it wasn’t just the GOLD that Nigeria won on the night – Okoro and Okwelogu made it a 1-2 in the Discus, Brume and Amadi made it a 1-2 in the Long Jump, while Abugan and Okon George finished 1st & 3rd in the 400 metres! Winning two GOLD medals in the men and women’s 4x100m relays was then simply the icing on the cake for Team Nigeria as the country overtook rivals South Africa, to get to the top of the medals table.

Reigning 100m African champion, Blessing Okagbare anchored the women’s team, comprising of Gloria Asumnu, Dominique Duncan and Lawreta Ozoh to gold in 43.56s, ahead of Cote d’Ivoire (43.99s), who didn’t have their star athlete, Murielle Ahouré in action, and Ghana followed in third with 44.06s. This follows Nigeria’s Silver winning effort at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where the team finished behind Jamaica who won the event with 41.83s, while Nigeria posted 42.93s.

The men’s 4x100m team, which comprised of Ogho-Oghene Egwero, Monzavous Edward, Obinna Metu and Mark Jelks, won their first medal of the season as they coasted to gold in 38.80s, thereby bringing an end to South Africa’s domination in the event. The South Africans, who were favourites for the title pulled out, thereby paving the way for Nigeria to reclaim its lost glory in the event. The medal serves as a consolation no doubt, after their seventh place finish in Glasgow. 

Ghana placed second in 39.28s, with Algeria coming third with a National Record (NR) of 39.89s, which elicited wide jubilation from the North Africans. Nigeria holds the AR in the 4x100m (37.94s) while their South African counterparts are owners of the CR (38.75).

In the men’s 400m hurdles, defending champion, Amaechi Morton lost his crown to South Africa’s Cornel Fredericks who is also the new Commonwealth Champion. However, he was consoled by the silver medal (48.92s), having been assured of a place at the forthcoming IAAF Continental Cup, while fellow Nigerian Miles Ukaoma finished in sixth with 50.40s.

Noah Akwu, Nigeria’s last man standing in the 400m, placed seventh in the final that was won by African record holder, Isaac Makwala of Botswana with a CR of 44.23s. Akwu had posted a Season’s Best (SB) of 45.86s in the semis but was unable to replicate the same form in the final as he finished with 46.40s.

The heats of the men’s 110 hurdles was dominated by Nigeria as Alex Al-Ameen won Heat 1 in 13.89s while compatriots Tyron Akins and Martins Ogierakhi finished in the top two spots in Heat 2 with 13.77s and 13.87s respectively. Akins had the fastest time in the final rankings, with Ogierakhi and Al-Ameen following closely. Nigeria can pull off a 1-2-3 in today’s final, barring any injury concerns, but have to watch out for Algeria’s duo of Othman Hadj Lazib and Lyes Mokddel who complete the Africa Top 5 list.

Brume adds African Long Jump Title to Commonwealth Crown, Amadi takes Silver!

13 Aug

It was another 1-2 for Nigeria in the women’s long jump event as Ese Brume added the African crown to her list of titles with a jump of 6.50m, which was just 6cm shy of her golden jump at the Commowealth Games in Glasgow, while team mate and Nigeria’s No.2, Chinazom Amadi made a leap of 6.40m to finish in second position at the ongoing African Senior Athletics Championships in Marrakech. Earlier in the day, Nigeria recorded a top two finish in the women’s discus where Chinwe Okoro and Nwanneka Okwelogu dominated the event.

This latest addition is the fifth title the Delta State athlete has to her name at the moment, including the National Sports Festival crown (which brought her to limelight two years ago), the national title (which she won at the Nigerian Trials in June), African Juniors title (which she won in Mauritius last year), Commonwealth GOLD (in Glasgow earlier this month) and now the African GOLD Medallist! She is also the African junior record holder in the event!

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Chinazom Amadi also demonstrated extreme composure in pulling out a Season’s Best jump of 6.40m after initially going out to 6.17m, which would have seen her run out of the medals! She is a seasoned African Championships performer, having won Silver in Ethiopia in 2008 and Bronze in 2006 in Mauritius with jumps of 6.31m and 6.23m respectively! Her PB of 6.60m was set at the National Trials in Calabar in 2012.

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 Brume has demonstrated by this performance that her GOLD in Glasgow was no fluke, having emerged as the surprise winner in a field that comprised of more experienced jumpers including England’s Shara Proctor and a host of others. She has been consistent this season, save for the IAAF World Junior Championships where she finished at the bottom of her group in the qualifying round just a week before Glasgow. It is still difficult to pinpoint what went wrong in Oregon, although it was alleged that she arrived for the competition a day before her event, and perhaps was still exhausted by her sojourn.

Ese Brume has truly come of age – the jumping sensation has put that disappointment behind her, and has more than made up for the loss by commanding outstanding performances in subsequent events. The stage is now set for both Brume and Amadi to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best ahead of the IAAF Continental Cup slated to also hold in Marrakech next month!

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Denby wins African 100m Hurdles Bronze, as another American Recruit, Weyinme finishes 4th!

12 Aug

Nigeria’s 100m Hurdles Champion Nichole Denby, who recently switched allegiance from Team USA, won a Bronze medal in the 100m Hurdles at the ongoing African Championships on Monday in a time of 13.27s, missing out on the GOLD medal by just a hundredth of a second! The surprise winner was South Africa’s Rikenette Steenkamp who took the day in 13.26s, with Cote d’Ivoire’s Rosvitha Okou Bodjiho coming a close second with the same time. Thus Denby’s quest for the African Title and to represent Africa at next month’s IAAF Continental Cup (only Africa’s top 2 qualify for the quadrennial competition) came to an agonising end.

Denby could not hide her disappointment at finishing in third place after looking so comfortable in the heats just a day earlier: “I’m not happy, I’m not happy. That was a really bad race for me. Really bad. I’m not sure what’s next now – I think only the Top 2 go to the Continental Cup…”

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She might take solace from winning her first medal for Team Nigeria, after tripping on the final hurdle to just miss out on a place the Commonwealth Games final just over a week ago. She will now have to look forward to the National Sports Festival in Calabar in November which she will now be favourite to win as she will compete for Delta State, since the Festival has now been made open to foreign-based Nigerians for the first time in its history!

In a surprising development, the championship threw up a new face, Lindsay Weyinme, whilst Nigerian fans had been expecting Ugonna Ndu to take to the track alongside Denby in the 100m hurdles heats on Sunday. Another American Recruit, Weyinme previously had not represented Nigeria (and was also not present at the National Trials in June) and virtually nothing is known of her, until now. She came through the heats in 13.39s, and followed that up with 4th in the final behind Denby in 13.43s.

IMG_0310 copy

The press in the stadium caught up with Lindsay Weyinme after the Final to find out more about her!

A lot of people in Nigeria will be asking right now ‘Who is Lindsay Weyinme?’ Can you tell us a little about your background? Are your parents Nigerian?

I grew up in the United States, and I have an uncle who is Nigerian who helped me to decide to run for Nigeria. We started doing the paperwork and I wasn’t sure at first, but he helped to persuade me.

What about your heritage – do you have anyone in your lineage from Nigeria?

Yeah, it’s from my uncle who married in.

So where do you see your Nigeria career going from here?

I feel it can only get better. It’s been an up and down year for me in terms of injuries and my performance, so I’m just getting better next year for worlds 

And where are you based now?

In Pheonix Arizona.

Ok, all the best for the future and many thanks for your time!

Thank you.

Team Nigeria Guide to 2014 African Athletics Champs – DAY 2 (Mon Aug 11)

11 Aug

Here’s the full schedule of ALL Team Nigeria Athletes competing in DAY TWO (Monday August 11th) at the African Athletics Championships, Marrakech 2014. Unfortunately this is not being shown in Nigeria, as SuperSports only have the rights to show the European Championships, which is happening simultaneously…

Never mind – Follow Making of Champions’ LIVE TWEETS,  POSTS and INSTAGRAM throughout the day as we bring you all the Action LIVE & DIRECT from the Stade de Marrakech – stay tuned!

6.10pm: 100m Hurdles Final

Nichole Denby (NGR No.1, Africa No. 2) and Lindsay Weyinme (NGR) vs Rosvitha Okou Bodjiho (CIV, Africa No.1), Gnima Faye (SEN, Africa No.3) and Rikenette Steenkamp (RSA, Africa  No.5).

6.25pm: 100m Women Final – NGR vs CIV!

Blessing Okagbare (NGR No.1, Africa No.1), Gloria Asumnu (NGR No.2, Africa No.3) and Lawreta Ozoh (NGR) vs

Murielle Ahoure (CIV, Africa No.2), Marie Ta Lou Gonezie (CIV, Africa No.5) and Nanzie Adeline Gouenon (CIV).

6.40pm: 100m Men Final – NGR vs RSA & CIV!

Mark Jelks (NGR No.1, Africa No.5), Monzavous Edwards (NGR No.2, Africa No. 12) and Ogho-Oghene Egwero (NGR No.3, Africa No.8) vs

Simon Magakwe (RSA, Africa No.1), Akani Simbine (RSA, Africa No.2) and Koffi Hua Wilfried (CIV, Africa No. 7).

7.15pm: 400m Women Heat 1Folashade Abugan (NGR No.1, Africa No.2) 

7.22pm: 400m Women Heat 2Patience Okon George (NRG No.2, Africa No. 3) vs Maureen Jelagat (KEN, Africa No.7).

7.29pm: 400m Women Heat 3Ada Benjamin (NGR No. 6, Africa No.9) vs Kabange Mupopo (ZAM, Africa No.6).

7.48pm: 400m Men Semifinal Heat 2Noah Akwu (NGR No.2) vs Isaac Makwala (BOT, Africa No.1) and Wayde Van Niekerk (RSA, Africa No.2).

7.55pm: Long Jump Men Final – Can Nigeria upset the South Africans from a 1-2-3 clean sweep of the podium???

Samson Idiata (NRG No.1, Africa No.5) and Hammed Suleiman (NGR No.2) vs

Zarck Visser (RSA, Africa No.1) , Rushwal samaai (RSA, Africa No.2) and Godfrey Mokoena (RSA, Africa No.3)

8.45pm: 400m Hurdles Men Heat 1Miles Ukaoma (NGR) vs Boniface Mucheru (KEN, Africa No.4)

8.50pm: 400m Hurdles Men Heat 2Chris Morton (NGR No.1, Africa No.5) vs L.J Van Zyl (RSA, Africa No.3)

9.15pm: 4x100m: Women Heat 2Nigeria (Africa No.1) vs Ghana, South Africa, Cameroun and Morocco

9.30pm: 4x100m Men: Heat 1 – Nigeria (Africa No.2) vs Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun  and Morocco

Divine Oduduru, 200m World Junior Silver Medallist vying for African Crown!

8 Aug

Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru first came to reckoning as the sprint double champion of the maiden edition of the African Youth Athletics Championship (AYAC) which was held last year in Warri, Delta State. However, he has not looked back since then and is ready to prove that he has come of age as he gets set to make his debut in the African Senior Championships holding from August 10th to 14th in Morocco.

The Delta State athlete has remained consistent and has closely been on the heels of his seniors, if not surpassing them in recent times. Oduduru ran the fastest 200m by a Nigerian last season, posting a time of 21.13secs in the semis of the IAAF World Youth (U-18) Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine even though he didn’t make it to the podium.

It was a different story this year however, going by the scorching (thought wind-assisted) 20.25s he clocked recently at the IAAF World Junior (U-20) Championships in Oregon, which was good enough for a Silver medal, and incidentally turned out to be Nigeria’s  only medal at the championships! His time also ranks as one of the top five fastest times run by a Nigerian (unofficially, since it is not valid for record purposes due to the strong tailwind. This feat followed his outstanding performance at the National Trials where he won the 200 title easily in 20.87s in his debut outing at the competition.

He is bound to face stiff competition from Africa’s No.1 in the event this year, Botswana’s Isaac Makwala who has been in great form this season. The more experiened sprinter breasted an astonishing 19.96secs in Switzerland last month barely ninety minutes after setting an African record of 44.01s in the 400m. Other contenders are Lesotho’s Mosito Lehata, Africa’s No.2 with 20.36s, Akani Simbine of South Africa who is No.3 with 20.37s, followed by team mate, Ncincihli Titi (20.41s).  

Oduduru comes to the competition as the continent’s joint No.7 with a PB of 20.66s set in the semi-finals of the World Juniors, and it will be a breath of fresh air to see the GOLD medal to return to Nigeria eight years after Uchenna Emedolu won it, while Noah Akwu picked a Bronze medal at the last edition of the championship, which was held in the Republic of Benin two years ago!

 200m Men’s Schedule: August 13th – 10.10am, Round 1, 7.00pm – Semis, August 14th, 7pm – Final

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

African mens 200m list copy

Abugan, Nigeria’s 400m Champion, to face teammates for African Title!

8 Aug

The absence of Defending African 400m Champion Amantle Montsho, has paved the way for Nigerian Champion, Folashade Abugan, to win her first continental title when the 19th African Senior Championships take off from August 10 to 14 in Marrakech, Morocco.

Botswana’s former world champion, and 2010 Commonwealth champion, was dethroned in Glasgow after she finished in fourth place behind the Jamaican trio of Stephanie McPherson, Novlene Williams-Mills and Christine Day. However she tested positive for a banned stimulant immediately following that race and has been provisionally suspended.

This development is now likely to result in a Nigerian 1-2-3 as Abugan and her  teammates, Patience Okon George and Omolara Omotosho, who are all in Africa’s Top 5 list this season, will now be the favourites for the podium positions in Marrakech. For now, Montsho is top of the continental list with 50.37s, with Abugan (51.21s), Patience George (51.29s), Regina George (51.30s) and Omotosho (51.56s) completing the Top 5 (Regina will not be in Marrakech, following the injury she sustained during last week’s Commonwealth Games).

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!

Incredibly this could be the first time that Nigeria sweeps the medals in the women’s 400m at the African Championships since 1990, when Fatima Yusuf, Charity Opara and Emily Odoemenam took to the podium, and would be the first Nigerian victory in the event since 1998, when 400m African Record Holder Falilat Ogunkoya won an incredible 200/400m double with then Championship Records of 22.22s and 50.07s respectively! Incidentally Abugan claimed Silver in 2008 and Bronze in 2010, both times behind Montsho who won GOLD on each of those occasions.

Abugan has been consistent this season, and was a member of the Bronze winning 4x400m team at the IAAF World Relays in the Bahamas in May. She put up an impressive performance to dethrone two-time winner, Regina George, at the National Trials in June and then anchored the 4x400m team to a Commonwealth Silver medal in Glasgow just last week. She was the only one of Nigeria’s ‘Fantastic Four’ to reach the individual 400m Final in Glasgow where she finished 5th, and she will be the athlete to beat in Morocco!

Folashade Abugan, 400m Nigerian Champion, after receiving the baton from Ada Benjamin  for the last leg of the women's 4x400m at Hampden Park in Glasgow at the 2014 C'wealth Games.  Jamaica won the GOLD, with Nigeria getting the Silver and England the Bronze!  (Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Scott Heppell)

Folashade Abugan, 400m Nigerian Champion, after receiving the baton from Ada Benjamin
for the last leg of the women’s 4x400m at Hampden Park in Glasgow at the 2014 C’wealth Games.
Jamaica won the GOLD, with Nigeria getting the Silver and England the Bronze!
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/ Scott Heppell)

That said, Okon George and Omotosho are bound to give Abugan a good fight for the title, noting that the trio also swept the medals at the National Trials in Calabar, and were also members of the Silver winning team in Glasgow and Bronze Medallists in the Bahamas. A Nigeria 1-2-3 is definitely on the cards ahead of the championships in Morocco.

Women’s 400m Schedule: August 10 – Round 1 at 6.10pm, August 11th – Semis at 7.50pm, August 12th – Final at 7.00pm

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

African womens 400m list copy

EXCLUSIVE Interview with TOSIN OKE, Nigeria’s Defending C’wealth & African Triple Jump Champion!

1 Aug

TOSIN OKE, Defending Commonwealth Games & African Triple Jump Champion, speaks EXCLUSIVELY to MAKING OF CHAMPIONS following yet another National Title at the Nigerian Trials in Calabar!  

Tosin, Congratulations! You just won the National Championships with a jump of 17.21m – though the distance is not valid for record purposes as it was assisted by a 2.4m/s wind, it does equal the 3rd best jump of your career, and just short of your PB of 17.23m. How are you feeling about the distance and the win?

 I can’t say I feel good; I feel more that since it’s the Commonwealth Games and African Championships year, it’s very important to be in top shape, so I’m getting into top shape.

 The announcer said this was your seventh national title. Is that the accurate figure?

 It’s five or six. Last year was very tricky. I had a few technical difficulties. The boards weren’t working last year and so I had a few problems. Even though I jumped the farthest, I didn’t win. This is my fifth title.

 How will you rate your performance so far this season? Are you satisfied?

 I tend to reflect on the season at the end and then make improvements for the future, so it’s too early to say. If I retain my Commonwealth title, it will be a success and if I retain my African title, it will be a huge success. Those are the markers for my season; I’m not really interested in Silver or Bronze. I’d like to get GOLD medals; that’s what I do all this work for and that’s how I will work out how good my season is.

 As reigning Commonwealth and African champion, what are you looking forward to in Glasgow and Marrakech? Are you under any form of pressure?

 I don’t suffer from any pressure to be honest. Obviously I do a lot of social work in the UK; I go to schools and try to inspire the young ones to be as good as they can be, so it will be nice to go there with four gold medals I think. That will be a nice thing but at the same time it is an important year for Nigeria and for me. At my age I just take every day as it comes and hope to do better each day, so we’ll see.

You’ve hit form at the right time. What do you feel about your chances of defending your Commonwealth Games title?

 I’m not a prophet like many Nigerians so I can’t predict what’s going to happen; I’m not an evangelist or anything like that. I’m just going to keep training well and stay focused and I’m going to see what happens.

 Quite a few men have gone over 17 metres this season but none really amongst the Commonwealth nation athletes. Surely that should be positive for your chances?

 Well it could be a factor if you are a statistician, but I’m not a statistician so I’d rather not make assumptions. I just like to focus on myself and try and do as best as I can.

Which opponents are you watching out for at the Commonwealth Games?

 I’m not watching out for anyone. This year I’m focused on myself solely and I think that’s the most important thing in Track and Field. When you start looking at others, you start assuming that they may do this or that and it distracts you from your own game, so I’m focused on myself.

Earlier this season at another meet in Morocco you beat some of the big names in the sport, including Phillips Idowu. Did you consider it a major achievement or do you just feel that this is your time to shine and you’re going to make the most of it?

 I don’t know if this is my time to shine so I have no idea since I’m not a prophet like a lot of my Nigerian brothers and sisters. The church of Tosin Oke has no members. We turn up to the track and jump as far as we can jump and if we win, we win. This year I have a lot to prove that I can get back to where I’m supposed to be. I’m just trying to fulfill that promise.

 Great! Let’s do a quick flashback. Since you switched over to Team Nigeria from Team GB, you’ve won GOLD medals at everything; African Championships twice, All-African Games and Commonwealth Games. What led to your decision about switching from Great Britain to Nigeria in the first place?

 Well it’s in the past; I don’t really care about it. I always look forward and I’m learning to look back in my career when I retire, so you will have to ask me that question after Rio and then maybe we can talk about it then. In the meantime what I focus on is Nigeria; doing my country proud and doing myself proud.

 Word has it that you fell out with Team GB selectors after they controversially left you out of their 2007 World Championship team. With all the GOLD medals you’ve won for Team Nigeria since then, do you feel vindicated by all your success during your time in Nigeria’s colours?

 I don’t really care; it’s irrelevant. The past is irrelevant now; what matters is the future and trying to continue to win medals in the future. That’s my focus. It makes no difference now.

Final question for you. You mentioned the Olympic Games in Rio. You are 33 now so you must be coming to the twilight of your career. Is the Olympic Games the last big event for Tosin Oke?

 Well if you think about it I’m 33 but my Nigerian age must be about 23 so that means I’ve got a lot of time, so I’ll be here for another 15 years I think! But on a serious note I definitely want to do another Olympic Games for Nigeria but we will see. I take it year by year so we will see.

 Fantastic! After finishing seventh in the final the last time around at the London Olympics, we hope you can get a medal in Rio!

 Tosin Oke will go in Group A of the Men’s Triple Jump Qualifying Round on Friday (Aug 1st) from 8.55pm, with Nigeria No. 2 Olu Olamigoke in Group B.

If they are amongst the Top 12 jumpers in qualifying, they will progress to the Final, at 7.10pm on Saturday (Aug 2nd) – DON’T MISS IT!

 

Tosin Oke collecting his GOLD medal in the Triple Jump at the 2014 Nigerian Trials!

Tosin Oke collecting his GOLD medal in the Triple Jump at the 2014 Nigerian Trials!

 

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