London 2012: Seven Nigerian athletes hit qualification benchmark

Nigerian Athletes at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games

Seven Nigerian athletes reached the Olympic qualifying standards set by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), in 2011 to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics.

They represent the first individuals from athletics to book their seats for Team Nigeria for London 2012. They include some of the best sprinters in the country.

Apart from the seven, in the ‘A’ qualifying standard, a host of others have made the lesser ‘B’ standard.

Ogho-Oghene Eqwero and Peter Emelieze have proven to be the country’s top sprinters in the men’s 100m. Amaechi Morton goes in the 400m hurdles while Tosin Oke aims to make his mark in the Triple Jump.

Blessing Okagbare made the grade in the 100m and 200m sprint double as well as the long jump where she won a bronze medal in 2008. It’s a combination of events made famous by Jesse Owens in 1936 and Carl Lewis in 1984, but an overlap in the scheduling means she is cut between a choice in the longer sprint and the long jump.

Paul Doyle, her US agent, said: “At the moment she’ll definitely do the 100m and long jump.

Last year wasn’t the best for her but I think she has the potential to be the best long jumper in the world. We’ll wait and see about the 200m.”

Another hopeful is Oludamola Osayomi, who can also double up in the sprints. She could be a threat to the best if she can recapture the form she showed in the All-African Games in Maputo. 

At a new personal best of 10.99s she ran in the 100m in Sao Paulo which puts her firmly in the top ten sprinters list.

Doreen Amata in the high jump is the final athlete so far making the ‘A’ standard. A country is allowed a maximum of three athletes that reach the ‘A’ standard in an event who meet or exceed this mark in the 18-month period prior to the Olympics.

The ‘B’ standard is slightly easier to reach, but only one additional athlete per nation may be entered who has met the ‘B’ standard without pushing on to the ‘A’ standard. The qualification period ends July 8, 2012.

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