Nigeria’s quartet of Imaobong Uko, Emmanuel Ojeli, Nathaniel Samson and Patience Okon-George missed out on qualification to the final of the 4x400m mixed relay at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
Running in heat one, the Nigerian team finished in fifth position with a time of 3:13.60 which is a new African record.
The first place went to Belgium, Ireland and Germany were second and third respectively while Spain was fourth.
In the 4×400m mixed relay, while teams can select any order for their athletes, most chose to go with a male lead-off runner, followed by two women over the next two laps, and a man running the anchor leg of the relay.
The Nigerian team were the only side to mix things up by starting with a male runner, followed by a female then a male for the third lap and ended with a female.
Samson gave Okon-George a lead of about 30 metres but she was comfortably passed by all the men in the final leg of the relay.
The United States team actually finished fastest in heat one but were later disqualified for exchanging the baton outside the changeover zone.
Dominican Republic were also disqualified, although they had finished outside the qualifying places for the final.
Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Jamaica and Great Britain will now compete in the final on Saturday.
The rules of the 4×400m mixed relay states that the first three countries in heat one and two and the next two fastest advance to the final.
This will be the first appearance of the mixed relay, added along with mixed team events in multiple sports for the 2020 games.
The event was first introduced at the 2017 IAAF World Relays. It was added to the World Championship programme at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
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