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World Athletics U-20 Championships -Nairobi 2021: Team Nigeria Begins Chase For Medals

World Athletics U-20 Championships -Nairobi 2021: Team Nigeria Begins Chase For Medals

The process of unearthing future Olympic medallists for Team Nigeria begins today, (Wednesday, August 18 2021) when the World Athletics U-20 Championships officially begins in Nairobi, Kenya.

The championship has in the past produced athletes who have gone on to become Olympic medallists for the country and this new set of U-20s will be hoping to emulate the feats achieved by their predecessors.

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That first step will be taken in Nairobi from this morning when the 4x400m mixed relay team take to the track in the second semifinal heat. The team will be followed by the boys and girls’ 100m and 400m runners who have the ardous task of trying to emulate the enviable feats of the likes of Davidson Ezinwa, Deji Aliu, Bisi Afolabi, Fatimah Yusuf, Falilat Ogunkoya and Francis Obikwelu who emerged champions of their respective events.

In the boys 100m, Godson Oghenebrume (10.13) is ranked the fastest boy coming to the World Athletics U-20 Championships in the absence of the Americans while Favour Ashe, with a personal best of 10.17 seconds achieved this year is also ranked in the top four.

Nigerian has not won the 100m title at the World Athletics U-20 Championships since 1996 when Francis Obikwelu became the second junior after Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago to successfully complete a sprint double in the history of the competition.

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Both Oghenebrume and Ashe can make history as the second set of Nigerian sprinters to finish 1 and 2 in the 100m final after Obikwelu and Seun Ogunkoya picked the gold and the silver medals at the 1996 edition in Sydney, Australia.

It will be a tough call for the girls as they seek to become the first Nigerian after Tina Iheagwan in 1986 to be crowned queen of the blue ribband event at the championship. In fact the last time Nigeria made it to the podium in this event was in 1998 when Uduak Ekah won the bronze medal medal behind the USA duo of Shakeedia Jones and Angela Williams in Annecy, France.

Praise Ofoku and Tima Godless will begin that mission to return Nigeria to the World Athletics U-20 Championships podium today at the Kasarani Stadium. Both are ranked outside the top 10 in the event coming to the Championship.

In the girls’ 400m, Opeyemi Oke and Nse Uko Imaobong will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of Fatimah Yusuf and Bisi Afolabi who not only emerged champions of this event in 1990 and 1994 respectively but also raced to the podium at the Olympics as members of the 4x400m relay team that won a silver medal in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Nse Uko will be hoping to go a step further. The world’s fastest U-18 girl (51.70) is the fastest coming to the World Athletics U-20 Championships -Nairobi 2021 following the absence of compatriot, Favour Ofili and the USA athletes and will be hoping to not only become the third Nigerian to win the event but also become the youngest Nigerian quartermiler to run a sub-51 seconds after Fatimah Yusuf who ran inside 51 seconds to win in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in 1990.

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