Rio Olympics: Nigerian athletes report card. 

In a school setting, after an exam, results are given and here’s the result of Nigerian Track and field athletes from The 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

The Athletics events commenced on the 12th of August and Nigerian athletes joined their counterparts from other nations to justle for medals. Whether good or bad, results most be given! 

African Championships Record Holder in the heptathlon, Uhunoma Osazuwa flagged off Team Nigeria’s participation in Track and Field. At the end of 4 events on Day 1, she finished 24th with 3609 points. Nwanneka Okwelogu finished 14th in the qualifying stage of the Women’s Shot Put event and placed 29th overall. 

2012 National Festival Champ, Orukpe Erayokan was drawn in heat 7 of the men’s 400m heat. The 44.95s runner couldn’t live up to expectations as he finished at a distant 7th with 47.42s and did not progress to the semis. 

The 100m Round 1 took center stage to bring Day 1 to a close and Team Nigeria were represented by 3 athletes. 

7-time National Champion, Blessing Okagbare jogged her heat to finish second in 11.16s to qualify for the semis while Jennifer Madu and Gloria Asunmu finished 5th and 6th respectively with a time of 11.61s and 11.59s and they sadly didn’t qualify for the semifinal

On Day 2, Patience Okon-George finished second in Heat 1 of the Women’s 400m in a time of 51.83s. Margaret Bamgbose finished third in Heat 3 with a time 51.43s to qualify for the semis a fastest loser while Omolara Omotosho finished fifth in 53.22s in Heat 7 and did not qualify to the next round.

Osazuwa Uhunoma could not recover from Day 1 as she finished 29th overall with 4916 points which is a far cry from her National Record mark of 6153 points . 

Three Nigerians were initially listed to take part in the men’s 100m Round 1 but due to some circumstances, one of the athlete was not registered. 2x National Champion, Seye Ogunlewe finished 4th in his heat in a time of 10.24s while former compatriot now representing Qatar, Femi Ogunode finished 5th in 10.28s. 

Egwero Ogho-Oghene finished 6th in his heat with a time of 10.37s and could not progress through this stage. 

Okagbare ended Nigeria’s pursuit on Day 2 on a sad note as the sprinter finished third in the 100m Semifinal with a time of 11.09s and that wasn’t good enough to take her into the finals even as a fastest loser. 

Okon-George and Bamgbose competed on Day 3 in the Women’s 400m semifinals. Okon-George finished 8th in 52.52s while Bamgbose finished 7th in 51.92s as they bowed out of the Games. 

3x African Champion, Tosin Oke leaped 16.47m while Olamigoke Olumide jumped 16.10m in the qualifying stages of the men’s Triple Jump on Day 4 and that was the end of their dream at the Rio Olympics. 

 Oke who finished 7th at The London Olympics wrote this on his Twitter page

 “Not making the final feels like a recurring nightmare, I did everything I could, and on the day, it was not enough.”

Miles Ukaoma bowed out in the mens 400m hurdles after finishing 5th in Heat 1 with a time of 49.84s while Amaka Ogoebunam also crashed out of the Women’s 400m hurdles running 56.96s to finish 4th in Heat 6. 

National Record Holder in the 110m hurdles, Antwon Hicks ran a time of 13.70s to qualify for the men’s semifinal while Okagbare Blessing ran 22.71s to win her 200m heat and qualified for the semis. 

On Day 5, African Junior Record Holder, Amusan Oluwatobiloba ran a time of 12.99s to qualify for the semis. 
 The man who is popular for his word “I never experred it” finished second behind Usain Bolt in the 200m heat and ran a Personal Best of 20.34s in the process while his compatriot, Tega Odele finished 8th in his heat with a time of 21.25s in a race that was won by former Nigerian, Salem Yaqoob now of Bahrain with a National Record of 20.19s. 

Antwon Hicks who made his debut appearance at the Olympics bowed out in the semis of the 110m hurdles after finishing 8th with a time of 14.26s.

Commonwealth Champion, Ese Brume leaped a mark of 6.67m to finish overall 6th in the qualifying stage of the Women’s Long Jump. Ending Nigeria’s quest on Day 5 was Blessing Okagbare who once failed to make the final after finishing 5th in a stacked 200m semis. 

Amusan Oluwatobiloba kicked off Nigeria’s participation on Day 6 as she finished 3rd in the semifinal of the Women’s 100m hurdles and her time wasn’t enough to sail her to the finals. 

Divine Oduduru also bowed out of the Men’s 200m semifinals after finishing 7th in a time of 20.59s.

Day 7 was full of high hopes as we had a team of competitors who we thought would bring home medals. 

Stephen Mozia could only throw a distance of 18.98m to finish 15th in the qualifying stage and 28th overall. Mozia who set two National Records within four days could not live up to expectations even after been ranked 3rd in the World coming into the Games.
Doreen Amata who has had a fine season this year could not progress through the Group stage after scaling 1.89m to finish 13th in Group A and 27th overall. 
Even with all this performances, the Women’s 4x100m team gave us a reason to smile after finishing second behind Germany to automatically qualify for the finals and were hoping to replicate the feat achieved in 2008. 
Day 8 was the last day of Team Nigeria’s participation on the track and once again our hopes were crashed as the Women’s sprint relay team finished 8th in the final with a time of 43.18s. 

Though she competed on Day 6 and was Nigeria’s best performer but she wasn’t recognized nor was any of her jumps shown on TV. 3x National Champion, Ese Brume who made her debut appearance at the Olympics finished 5th in the finals of the Women’s Long Jump after jumping 6.81m about .02m off her Personal Record. Ese is a bundle of talent who if adequate support is giving could go on to win a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 
Ese Brume who turned 20 years old in January is a 2x African Championship winner in the Long Jump and in 2013 at the African Junior Championship she won 3 medals; Gold in the Long Jump, Silver in the Triple Jump and Gold in the 4x100m. She finished strongly in the 2015 edition with 3 Gold medals and one Bronze medal. Ese Brume was the only Nigerian athlete to make the final of any Track and Field event at The Rio 2016 Olympics. 

The elated athlete who spoke to journalists in Rio has this to say 

” I am so excited and am thankful to God for bringing me this far. Despite the ups and down, I was still able to make it to the finals. I am very glad.” 

Many sports loving followers did not expect much from the Nigerian team. While some put their faith in God for a miracle others ruled the team out! 
Now The Rio Games is over with a lot of heart breaks and disappointments. For a better outing in 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Government should support athletes and pay their prize monies and allowances as at when due. Corporate sponsors are not left out on this, thanks to Union Bank for coming to the aid of Nigerian athletes at die minute but we need more organizations to buy into the stories of these athletes now so we won’t have hiccups by 2020.  
It takes four years of hard work, training and determination to be an Olympic medalist. Nigerian athletes should start now before it become a tale of “Had I known”

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Rio Olympics: Six Nigerian born athletes set to compete for Bahrain. 

The 2016 Rio Olympics athletics events is set to get underway today, 12th August at the Rio de Janiero Olympic stadium, Brazil which was built in 2007 and oil rich nation, Bahrain will be represented by 31 athletes out of which 6 are Nigerians.

These athletes have either competed for Nigeria at a point or have made the team but were never picked while some didn’t even make the team. A school of thought have it that they made a wise decision for switching allegiance while others are wishing they stayed back to become the champions they are in the Green White Green colours. 
They are: 

Oluwakemi Adekoya

Adekoya is a Nigerian-born Bahraini star athlete who competes in the 400m flat and 400m hurdles. She has a personal best of 50.86s and 54.12s which are Bahrain’s National Records. 
She shocked the world in 2014 especially the Nigerian officials present at the Doha Diamond League not because she won the 400m hurdles on her debut appearance but that she donned the Red and White colors of Bahrain and it was a world-leading time. 
Adekoya is not regretting switching allegiance because she felt she would have been forced to retire early due to frustration. She is most notable for her win at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland earlier this year when she stunned the world with a time of 51.45s which is also a Bahraini record. Her times this year is faster than any Nigerian female quatermiler competing in Rio. She is ranked 10th in the world this year in the 400m hurdles. 

Abbas Abubakar Abbas

Abbas who is famous for the phrase he used during an interview at The 2015 IAAF World Championships “Please Nigeria try to help some athletes…. No Nigerian athlete will beat me, even if I’m not in shape” he said. 
Abbas who finished second behind Orukpe Erayokan at the National Sports Festival in 2012 switched allegiance less than a month later to compete for Bahrain. He went on to represent his adopted country at the 2013 World Junior Championship and 2014 World Junior in the 400m where he finished third in the latter meet. 
Abbas who claimed that no Nigerian athlete would beat him even when he isn’t in shape, had their fastest time by a Nigerian in his discipline recent years until Orukpe Erayokan proved him wrong when he ran a blazing 44.95 at the All-African Games in Brazzaville m. From stats, Abbas has not ran a 400m outdoor this year but he is at the Olympics based on his 45. 15s he posted last year. 

Edidiong Ofonime Odiong

Edidiong who is fresh from the just concluded IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland is a 19 year old Nigerian-born athlete who started competing internationally for Bahrain just last month will make her debut appearance at The Olympics in Rio. 
Edidiong who competed for Nigeria at the African Youth Championship in 2013 where she converted the 400m title went on to finish 6th in the same event at the World U20 in 2014 and also anchored the Nigerian 4x400m to 5th place. 
This year, the Top Sprinter went for her second appearance at the U20 Championships where she outran the rest of the field to win the title in a blazing time of 22.84s but this time in the Red and White colours of Bahrain. We wonder what the oil rich nation did with her within the space if 2 years! 

Iman Essa Jasim

Iman is a Nigerian born Bahraini athlete who competes in the 100m for the oil rich nation. The 19 year old who has qualified to compete at The Olympics after running a time of 11.26s in June this year. 
The youngster was formerly known as Endurance Essien Udoh was a product of Cross River State Athletics Programme along with Eddidiong. She never made the Nigerian team but she felt going to Bahrain would be a life-line for her to excel in athletics considering how difficult and competitive it is to make the Nigerian national team. 

Salwa Eid Naser

Salwa was born in Nigeria to a Nigerian mum and Bahraini dad. She competes in the 400m where she is the 2015 World Youth and Military Games Champ with a personal best of 51. 39s. 
In 2015, Salwa raced to a then Bahraini record of 11. 70s and 23. 03s in the 100m and 200m respectively. The youngster who won the 400m World Youth Championships in grand style after she patiently overhauled more favoured American Lynna Irby in the final stage of the race to achieve a then PB of 51. 50s to take the gold medal. Her tactical running was praised and admired by Decathlon World Record Holder, Ashton Eaton who then invited her on all expenses paid trip to train with him for three days along with 4 other athletes from the Youth competition. She would compete in the 200m and 400m in Rio. 

Salem Eid Yaqoob

This name may not ring in the ears of many Nigerian sport loving enthusiast but at some point in his career, Salem switched allegiance from Nigeria to Bahrain. 
Salem who is a 200m specailist will compete in the men’s 200m round 1 athletics gets underway today. Not much is known about the athlete but he has a Season Best / Personal Best of 20. 34s which places him at a joint 53rd with Arman Hall on the IAAF 2016 World ranking. His time is the fastest time by a Nigerian this year as the closest to him is Divine Oduduru who occupies the 104th spot with a time of 20.47s.

If Nigeria had capitalized on these star athletes we woukd have been in Rio with a more confident team. As it is now, more athletes are praying and hoping that one day they will have the same opportunity to leave this country in search of greener pastures in other rich nations especially the Arabian nations where they be valued and taken care of properly. I wonder how many more athletes we would lose to other nations before we come to the realization that some certain things need to be in place for athletes to stay put in Nigeria. While others are recruiting young and raw Nigerian talent, we are busy scouting for fairly used or already retired American athletes who have little or nothing to offer. 

Other athletes of Nigerian decent competing for other nations include, Femi Ogunode (Qatar), Cindy Offili (Great Britain), Tiffany Porter nee Offili (Great Britain), James Dasolu (Great Britain), Courtney Okolo (USA) David Omereghie (USA), Eseosa Desalu(Italy) and Maria Benedicta Chigbolu (Italy)

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National Record Holder Antwon Hicks chats exclusively with Athletic Heat

Antwon Hicks is an American born, Nigerian track and field hurdler who competes in the 110-meter hurdles. He was the gold medallist in that event at the 2002 World Junior Championships in Jamaica – the first American to life that title.He was twice NCAA indoor champion in the 60-meter hurdles.

 Hicks was a 15-time state high school champion and the 1999 American junior champion in the high jump. In addition to his NCAA indoor titles, he ran a school record 7.61 seconds for the 60 m hurdles. 

He talks to Athletic Heat on how he ran the Nigerian national record, his goals for Nigerian youths after retirement and his hope at The Olympics….

Congrats on your race at the national trials and your new national record. How do you feel about it?
I feel great about it. My goal was to hit the standard  but to also  get a National Record is a plus to me.

Did you see it coming?

Oh yeah! I have always dreamed of it but it was not easy. It took work of day in day out and I had to be really focused, consistent and had to sacrifice to get to where I am but it has paid off.

So do you think you could go faster? Probably under 13s.

Yes I do! I have run 13.09s, so I know what it takes to run that fast. Hurdles is very technical, so I have to clean up my technic in order to be in medal contention for Rio.

You are 33 years old and still running this fast. What’s your motivation?

At my age, I draw inspiration from a lot of people. I look at athletes like Kim Collins who is 40 years old and still able to run fast and this shows me what the possibilities are for human being’s. When I see somebody else do it, I feel I can do it too and my All time favorite athlete, Gail Devers she was still running fast up until age 41 before she retired.

 How long have you been running?

I have been running track since I was 8 year old, so probably about 25 years.

In 2014, you were at the national trials and you didn’t perform too well and you are back in 2016 and you have the title as well as the National Record. What did you work on to come back stronger?

To be honest! In 2014, I was actually kinda retired from track, so when I came into the national trials that year, I was off for close to one year without training. So when I heard about the trails I had only one month to train, so I did the best I could to get ready. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough because track and field takes a lot of hard work, dedication and training which I didn’t get a chance to do. So this year, I had time to train, to get my body to the level it needs to be at and this is the result.

So can you tell us about yourself?

I grew up in The States, I am from Hot Springs, Arkansas. I went to the University of Mississippi which is popularly known as Ole Miss. I have competed at the professional level since 2006 and currently, I am an assistant track and field coach at Neosho County Community College

Most people are eager to know your Nigerian root. Can you clear the air on that?

I don’t know the full knowledge but I know when I was approached by the federation, they had a research on those who had Nigerian descent but that side of my family, I don’t really have a huge history because I grew up with my mum and I don’t know much about my dad’s side so my knowledge is not so high on that.

So how often do you visit Nigeria?

This is actually my second time and it’s just been for athletics but hopefully I can come back in the future for events involving athletics. I would really love to help the youths when they are in camp to inspire them to be great hurdlers and track athletes as well.

So what’s the training like towards The Olympics?

It’s just more of getting ready, trying to be sharp. Been working hard but trying to slow down a bit so my body will be ready to be at its peak for The Olympics.

How do you intend to impact the next generation when you are finally retired?

I have been coaching for the past six years and I have coached at the high school level and now I am coaching at the collegiate level. Something I am really thinking of doing when I retire is to focus on coaching and see if I could find a chance to coach the next great Nigerian talents.

Thanks for your time. Wish you the best in Rio!

Thank you very much

Antwon Hicks will make his debut appearance at The Olympics and also for the Nigerian team as he competes in the first round of men’s 110m hurdles on the 15th of August. Hicks National Record of 13.27s places him on 16th position on the 2016 World ranking. We wish him the best in his pursuit!

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Rio Olympics: Nigerian athlete out of men’s 100m

 It is pathetic to know that Nigeria’s Monvazous Edwards will not take part in the men’s 100m round 1 when the athletics events commence on August 12th at Rio de Janeiro. 

If he hadn’t made the standard that would have been a different case but Edwards ran a time of 10.16 to qualify for the Olympics unfortunately for him, he wasn’t registered by the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC).  

You would recall that at the just concluded IAAF World Junior Championship in Poland, the Nigerian women sprint relay were meant to be in action but to their dismay they weren’t registered. 

The aggrieved athlete took to his Instagram Page to share the mail that was sent by Paul Hardy, IAAF Competition Director.  

The US-based athlete who was meant to make his debut appearance at The Olympics was the 2000 American Junior champion in the 100m and 200m. 

Monvazous began competing for Nigeria in 2014 at The Commonwealth Games and he was a bronze medalist at The African Championship that same year. He has a personal record of 10.00s and 20.17s.

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Tega Odele is the National Sports Festival Champion over the 200m . He was a bronze medalist at The 2015 All-African Games and he is also the 2015 National Champion in the 200m. Tega Odele chats exclusively with ‘Athletic Heat’ as he talks about his journey from Benin toBeijing and Brazzaville, the Rio Olympics amongst other things. Read on!

So what was your childhood like? Was it sport inclined?

Yes it was. I started running like when I was in primary school but I
started running like 1500m, 5000m, 800m and then when I got to
secondary school. You know how housemasters and housemistress would behave, so I started running from 100m to anything that was runnable

So when you started athletics where your parents in support of it?

Yeah, they were in support of it right from primary school because we
were always going for competitions and they would always take me to
school early so I could meet up with training so I felt they were
supporting me and by the time I was thinking of getting spike shoes it
wasn’t a problem when I asked for it.

So what propelled you to go into athletics?

Well for me I have been running for a long time like from Primary
school the normal interhouse sports thing and then when I got to the
university, I saw a couple of guys training and I said I would beat
all these guys here but I did not put my mind into the training and
then my brother told me that there was a NUGA competition in 2011 and
Uniben was going to host and there were going to pay money for the
running and he said like 40,000 naira and I was like, just to run? He
said YES! So I went to the sports complex and I met a coach which is
also my present coach and I told him I wanted to train and it was the
same thing I was telling him for weeks but I never showed up till the
day he told me that I say I want to train but he never saw me. So from
that day I became serious and since then it’s been history.

You graduated from The University of Benin as a champion in the
National University Games (NUGA) over the 200m, 4x100m and 4x400m races. Can you share how you were able to combine education and sports?

Whatever you want to do come with sacrifice and it wasn’t as if it was
all rosy. They were days I had to train really very early, I mean
really early and some other days I would train really late but at the
end of the day, I still had to go to class, read my books and what my
parents sent me to do was to read my book, so there was no way I would
go back home and tell them because I am doing athletics that’s why I
didn’t perform well and besides anything you are doing, you would want to do them very well. So basically, I sacrificed time for both the
reading of the book and also for training.

Your trip to Beijing was like your first race on the big stage. How did you feel competing with the best in the world?

I was relaxed. For me, it was ‘’Guy just enjoy the moment’’. Haha.
Just for me to put up a good race and try to do something really
awesome. So that was what I went out to do because I wasn’t in anyway
scared. I just feel like most of the time when you are running on that
kind of level and beat those guys, your name will be all over, so who
wouldn’t want to beat them. Like I said, it was just for me to go out
and put up a good race and it was a very nice experience and it was

So what’s your source of inspiration?

For me, I look up to everybody, from world class athletes to
footballers, movie actors. I mean! Everybody who I doing well in this
world is a mentor. I feel if there could come from a low ground and
then be where they are today is a source of inspiration to me. Some
days it could be from my team mate or my neighbor.

The Olympics in less than 3 days and bearing in mind, that you have run the standard three times and  you have been listed by the AFN,  What should we expect from you?

I am looking at putting up a really good show. Run fast times and it’s
all about bringing out the best when it matters most. Just like the
last World Championships, Nicholas Bett that won the 400m hurdles.
Nobody knew this guy, when they counting medal hopefuls he wasn’t
even listed or even thought of making the finals but he took every
round step by step and at the end of the day, he went home with a Gold
medal. So I feel I will just give in my best, stay healthy and try to
put up a formidable race and that what really matters most.

Can you tell us about your story, from Benin to Beijing to Brazzaville?

When you are doing a business, you would like to take it global. So I
feel that literally explains my story from Benin to Beijing to
Brazzaville. It was a really awesome year, it’s not as if the year
started like everything was going to happen, there were ups and downs
but at the end of the day I was able to come up with a really fast
time. Even at a point when I felt the show was almost over because it
was the last race of the season and it was not like I was going to run
another race after that. So I thank God for it.

So can you share some of your short term and long term goal in generally?
I am thinking of starting my master’s degree but I am trying to give
the sport my whole time especially this year. I would have started
like last year because I have had scholarship, offers  but I felt
like the Olympics is coming, Why don’t I take out this year to prepare
because it’s not easy reading and focusing on the training. So I
decided to dedicate this year for purely training because I feel if I
can run fast times at the world class level, run at the Diamond League
just to give hope to the young ones and probably when I want to stop
athletics, I could go into something else but anything that would make
me relate to people, is all I want to do. And after my master’s
degree, I would want to do a Ph. D.

Do you feel that home based athletes could actually match up with the
foreign based athletes in all events bearing in mind that we don’t
have the same facilities as they do.

People are working hard. For me, it’s not where you are that matters
but it’s how fast you can go. If you are here and you are making it,
good for you and if you are outside there and you can go really fast
then it’s good for you as well but at the end of the day, it’s about how
fast you can go. Even there, they are some guys that are fast while
some are not at all. And the truth of the matter is that everyone
believes we are all the same and you won’t want someone to come and
beat you and if home based perform well, nobody would say ‘’Oh! This
athlete come and represent us because you are foreign based’’ and
that’s why there is a trial.
I could remember there was a time when, foreign based would come and
they would beat all the athletes here and a time came when everything
started changing and I feel this year was like that.

Lastly, so what can you say to your fans reading this interview?

It’s not going to be easy but when it’s looking like nothing is working
for you, then I think that’s the time you should stay stronger because
you never l know what will come your way.  So every day keep putting
your best in what you do and it will definitely pay off one day but if
you are not prepared for that moment, you may not grab that
opportunity. So keep up with the training, so when that moment comes
you will be able to perform. Sticking to dreams pay off because it paid
of for me and a couple of other athletes I know. An example is Orukpe
(Erayokan) I saw him when he was injured, abandoned but he is still
doing very well. Last year he did a 44s but if he gave up, I am not
sure when the moment came for him to run a 44s he would have been able
to run it.
Thanks for your time. I wish you the very best at the Olympics.

Thanks. I appreciate.


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