–Okon George,Etim,Adeloye also in the final
By Sab Osuji, In Brazzaville:
Orukpe Erayokan Monday evening ran into Nigeria’s record books as he booked his place in the men’s 400m final.
The ‘home boy’ ran a blistering 44.95 seconds personal best to win his semi-final heat and in the process become the fifth fastest man in the event in Nigeria’s all-time list behind record holder,Innocent Egbunike (44.17) who incidentally is the only Nigerian who has won the title in the history of the Games,policeman,late Sunday Bada who ran 44.63 seconds at the fourth IAAF Worlds in Stuttgart,Germany,Clement Chukwu who ran 44.65 seconds to win the African Championships 400m gold in Dakar,Senegal in 1998 and Godday James who ran 44.90 seconds in 2008 in Abuja.
Erayokan’s time also makes him only the fifth Nigerian to run inside 45 seconds,the first to break 45 seconds since Godday James 44.90 seconds run in Abuja in June 2008.
The little-known Nigerian will however have to overcome the almost insurmountable task in the figure of Botswana’s Isaac Makwala who ran 44.87 seconds to win his semi-final heat if he desires to become the second Nigerian to win the 400m title.
In the women’s version,the trio of reigning national champion,Patience Okon George,Margaret Etim and Tosin Adeloye qualified for Tuesday’s final.
Okon George,semi-finalist in Beijing at the 15th IAAF World Championships last month won her semi-final heat with 51.77 seconds ahead of compatriot,Etim who ran 52.34 seconds.Ekiti-born girl,Adeloye ran 51.24 seconds,a new personal best to come second in the second semi-final behind Zambia’s Kabange MUPOPO who ran 50.94 seconds to win the heat.
The Zambian will be the only recognised threat to a Nigerian clean sweep of the medals when the final is run on Tuesday.