The 2017 edition of the IAAF World Relay Championships whiich is set to hold in Nassau, Bahamas for the 3rd consecutive time will kick off tomorrow, April 22nd at the Thomas Robinson stadium and Nigeria will only be represented by her women’s team which consists of a handful of foreign based athletes as most home based athletes have one issue or the other.
Speaking on the situation, Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Technical Director, Navy Comm. Omatseye Nesiama gave concrete explanations about the latest development.
“Mercy Ntai-Obong’s visa has expired, her passport is going to be expiring in a month or two and if we have to start processing a visa for her from now, she can’t make it”
He continued “It’s a very sad thing because she’s one of the brightest athlete on the team. Her name was already sent but we can’t be able to get a visa for her and it has to be a US visa and you know the process. It’s quite unfortunate that she has that issue. She has a visa but it’s not a two-year visa were she could do dropbox, that’s the problem. It’s very unfortunate and sad for all of us”
Akure based athletes; Folasade Abugan and Omolara Omotosho will not be on the team reason being that they haven’t competed this year and AFN is not sure of the current form.
“Look! This World Relays thing now, there are many things that are affecting it. Sade Abugan and Omolara Omotosho, their current form need to be properly checked. It’s not about going there, in the 4x200m we have the record so if we are going there we should go and put up a good show and even some of the athletes are not reachable. The home based have some issues with visa and not knowing their current form because we had a competition where everybody was suppose to come. So if you were not there, then you are suspicious and that you’re not really ready for the season” he said.
National Festival champion, Peace Uko who is also listed for the 4x100m relay will not make the trip as a reliable confirmed to Athletic Heat that she’s still in the country.
The last home based athlete on the team is National 400m Junior champion, Praise Idamadudu who the Director could not speak on but as at the time of filing, she was seen with her teammate’s of the University of Port Harcourt on their way to Markudi, Benue state for the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) competition.
Regina George and Christy Udo after winning the 4x200m at 2015 World Relays.
Be that as it may, the tentative list would now be; Blessing Okagbare, Duncan Dominque, Jennifer Madu and Stephanie Kalu for the 4x100m.
Okagbare, Duncan and Madu will join Patience Okon for the 4x200m wherein Nigeria is the defending champion in the event while Patience will team up with Jennifer Edobi, Margaret Bamgbose and Ugonna Ndu for the 4x400m event.
If these four strong athletes; Abugan, Omolara, Ntai-Obong and Idamadudu are not on the team it means the same athletes that run in the 4x200m and 4x400m heats would run the finals as well without substitutions.
That was the same scenario at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing when the women’s 4x400m which included Patience Okon, Tosin Adeloye, Regina George and Funke Oladoye surprisingly beat the Jamaican team to win their semifinal to run a then Season’s Best (SB) of 3:23.27s but in the final, they could only manage a 5th place running 2s slower than they did in the semifinal.
“I am not excited but we dont have anything to say, other countries have reserve but it’s the same people that ran yesterday (the semis) that ran today (the final) but other countries like Jamaica, US, Russua, Canada they have their reserve and it’s those reserve that joined those people that ran today to perforn very well” Tosin Adeloye speaking in a post race interview after their 5th place finish.
It might be the same story this year but we only hope for the best as the final eight countries in the 4x100m and 4x400m will automatically qualify for the World Championships in London by August.
This is one of the problems that the incoming AFN board should look into because if there was adequate preparation all these issues won’t be happening. Good luck to the ladies!