By Dare Esan:
Nigerian quartermile trio of Patience Okon George,Yinka Ajayi and Margaret Bamgbose will have to set new personal best times and possibly run inside 50 seconds if one or all three of them desire to race in Tuesday’s 400m final at the on-going 16th IAAF World Championships in London, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The trio made history of some sort in the first round when they became the second Nigerian trio of quartermilers to qualify for the semi-final of the championships after the feat recorded in 2009 by the trio of Folasade Abugan, Sorina Nwachukwu and Amaka Ogoegbunam.
George came second in heat 5 behind USA’s Quanera Hayes in 51.83 seconds while the duo of Ajayi and Bamgbose came third in their respective heats.
Ajayi, making her debut at the championships ran 51.58 seconds in a heat that had the reigning Olympic champion in the event, Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo (50.97), and Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann Mcpherson (51.27) who came first and second respectively.
Bamgbose, a semi-finalist at the Olympics in Rio last year, was also third in heat 6 to book a place in Monday night’s semi-final.
The trio will make history if they make it to the final to become the first time Nigeria will present three athletes in the final.The best
Nigeria has produced was when Fatimah Yusuf and Falilat Ogunkoya ran in the final of the event in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1995.
They will however have to break new grounds to make that a reality. George has been drawn in the first of the three semi-final heats and will have to run faster than the 50.71 seconds personal best she set two years ago before she can have a chance of upsetting the duo of Miller-Uibo and Hayes and pick one of the two automatic qualification slots for the final or hope to qualify as one of the two fastest losers after the three semi-finals must have been decided.
The same magic the duo of Ajayi and Bamgbose would have to perform tonight as they were also drawn against world class quartermilers.
Ajayi will run from lane 8 in the second semis and will hope for a miracle of some sort to race past defending champion, USA’s Allyson Felix, the Jamaican duo of Shericka Jackson and ageless Novlene Williams-Mills as well as 2015 9th IAAF World Youth Championships winner, Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain.
Bamgbose on the other hand will battle USA’S Phyllis Francis,the only athlete in her heat who has run inside 50 seconds (49.96 seconds) this season, home girl Zoey Clark, as well as the African duo of Kabange Mupopo of Zambia and former world champion, Amantle Monthso of Botswana.
Only two Nigerians,Falilat Ogunkoya and Fatimah Yusuf have made it to the final of the event with the former’s fourth place finish in Seville, Spain in 1999 Nigeria’s best position in the event.
Meanwhile, the duo of quartermile barrier runner, Glory Onome Nathaniel, and triple jumper Tosin Oke will also be in action Monday.
Nathaniel whose brother Samson failed to advance beyond the first round of the men’s 400m will hope to at least go one step further and
equal Nigeria’s best performance in the event, a semi-final finish. She will run from lane three in heat five of the opening round.
Oke, finalist at the last edition of the championships in Beijing two years ago, has been drawn in the second of two qualifying groups and will need to set at least a new personal season’s best of 17.00m to gain automatic qualification or hope to be among the best 12 performers in the two groups to make his second straigh final in the event.