Top Nigerian athletes storm Benin for national trials

The creme de la creme of Nigerian athletes have landed in Benin City, the Edo State capital and Nigeria’s fourth largest city for the National Athletics Championships Trials.

The championship scheduled to start on Sunday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium is gleaming with expectations as the hopes and aspirations of top Nigerian athletes will be brought to light on the track.

The journey to Benin City, the centre of Nigeria’s rubber industry for the Championship was not an easy one for the athletes as dedicated, commitment and hardwork defined their qualifying performance in various events.

Much attention is focused on the event, as it’s the trials for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and the African Seniors Athletics Championship in Douala, Cameroon later this week.

Those who are yet to hit the qualifying mark are looking forward to making their faces known from the 16th to 18th of June, with those who have booked their tickets to Paris looking to consolidate.

The center of attraction at the National Championship, the men and women’s long and short sprints is fully guarded with renowned athletes led by Tobi Amusan, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma and Ashe Favour ready to set the track ablaze.

For Nigerian athletics officials, it is heart warming sight and a melody of glad tidings to see Nigerian men sprinters bouncing back again after been overshadowed by Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya and Akani Simbine of South Africa in recent years.

Spearheading Nigeria’s march to reshape the African storyline is Ashe Favour with a Doctorate in speed and agility who has consistently gone under 10.00 seconds. He has a season and personal best of 9.94 seconds.

The A+ sprinter is on the quest to erase Olusoji Fasuba’s national record of 9.88 seconds since 2006.

Godson Brume is another sprinter gathering speed, establishing himself as a force to reckon with posting a Personal Best of 9.90 seconds and a season best of 9.99 seconds.

Udodi Uwazurike, the final piece of the men’s trio is begining to rediscover himself and grabbing all the attention after being slowed down by injury.

Udodi has a Person Best of 9.92 seconds and a season best of 10.24 seconds. He remains the athlete to beat in the 200m with a personal best of 19.76 seconds and a season best of 20.13seconds.

Kayinsola Ajayi with 10.01seconds season and Personal Best is also a strong contender in the field that is expected to produce an African or world leading time ahead of the African Athletics Championships and Olympics.

In the women’s category, Favour Ofili takes the spotlight with a personal best of 10.78 seconds and a national record of 21.96 seconds. The athletics amazon, is closely followed by Rosemary Chuwkwuma and Tima Godbless, another sprinter of note coming to the party.

The men and women 400m is another category worthy of mention. For the first time in a number of many years, Nigeria can boast of four 44.00 seconds runners in the men’s quarter mile. Samuel Ogazi leads the pack with 44.52 seconds trailed by Dubem Nwachukwu, Bamidele Emmanuel and Chidi Okezie.

In the same vein, Ella Onojuvwevwo, Elo Esther Joseph and Omolara Omotosho Ogumakinju also have a shot at glory.

On the field, all eyes will be on high jump sensation Temitope Adeshina to display her new found form in front of the home crowd. She has only the cross bar to contend with as she aims to clear 2.00 meters after she achieved 1.97meters recently to erase her national record.

Ese Brume is still holding sway in the women’s long jump. She is aiming for her fourth African Championships title in Douala, Cameroon. Compatriots Ruth Usoro with a personal best of 6.87m and up and coming former junior athlete Prestina Ochonogor 6.67m are hot on her heels.

Still on the AFN National Trials, the President of the Federation, Chief Tonobok Okowa, says the athletics governing body will select only the very best athletes, who are capable of winning medals for the country at the African Seniors Championships in Douala the economic capital of Cameroon.

“For years, we have been looking for a way to top the medals table at the African Seniors Championships, and I believe we have the chance to make history this year in Douala, Cameroon based on the quality of stars at our disposal, Okowa who is also the President of Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Region 2 stated.

“We will select only our best athletes in this National Trials not just for our trip to Cameroon but also for the Paris Olympic Games,” Okowa added.

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