Team Nigeria athletes to the 15th IAAF World Championships which starts this Saturday in Beijing will jet out on Tuesday August 18, aboard Ethiopia Airlines.
The athletes will be led by high jumper, Doreen Amata .
Others who will be on the plane to Beijing from Abuja include Tega Odele who ran the fastest 200m time (20.47 seconds) by a Nigerian since 2004 at the national trials last month in Warri,400m barrier runner,Amaka Ogoegbunam,sprinter Cecilia Francis as well as quartermilers Patience Okon George,Tosin Adeloye and Rita Ossai.
The officials will be led by Professor Ken Anugweje who is the team leader,coaches Yusuf Ali,Gabriel Okon and Solomon Aliyu as well as Falilat Ogunkoya and Enefiok Udodong who are going as team officials.
Today, Completesportsnigeria.com's DARE ESAN takes a look at individual events Nigeria will be participating in and the best performances recorded since the inaugural edition of the championships…
Nigeria's Best Performances And Performers
Tega Odele will be flying Nigeria's flag in this event. Francis Obikwelu holds the dual record of being Nigeria's best performer in the event following the 20.84 seconds he ran at the semi-final stage at the 7th edition of the championships in Seville,Spain in 1999.Obikwelu,who switched allegiance to Portugal thereafter also holds the best result achieved by a Nigerian in the event. His bronze-winning feat at the same championships in Seville is the best result Nigeria has ever achieved in the event since the inaugural edition was held in Helsinki, Finland 1983.
Like in the 200m event, one man also holds the title of the best performer in terms of time returned and the best placed athlete in terms of position.Prince Henry Amike's heroics in 1987 in Rome at the second edition of the championships is yet to be matched and that is the herculean task before Miles Ukaoma, Nigeria's sole 400m barrier run representative in Beijing.
Amike ran 48.50 seconds at the semi-final stage of the championships to set a new national record which has gone unbroken since then.He also made it to the final, running 48.63 seconds to place sixth.
Ajayi Agbebaku's bronze-winning feat at the inaugural edition of the championships in Helsinki,Finland remains the best result Nigeria has ever achieved at the championships.His 17.18m leap in that final is however second best to the 17.29m hopped,stepped and jumped by Joseph Taiwo two years later in Rome which fetched him the sixth position.Tosin Oke is flying Nigeria's flag in Beijing and he would be aiming for his first final placing after crashing out in the qualifying stage in his two previous attempts and of course his first 17m and above jump after 16.87m and 16.60m jumps in 2009 and 2011 respectively.
Blessing Okagbare has the chance to pull away from Mary Onyali as the best performer when the 15th edition of the championships gets underway in Beijing on
Saturday.Onyali's 10.97 personal best-setting run in the first round of the event in 1993 in Stuttgart,Germany remains the best performance by a Nigerian at the championships.vOkagbare however tied Onyali's fifth placing run (11.05 seconds) in 1993 when she also placed fifth (11.12 seconds) at the 13th edition of the championships in Daegu,South Korea in 2011.
Okagbare's bronze-winning feat two years ago in Moscow has made her Nigeria's best placed athlete in this event,supplanting Mary Onyali's fifth placing at the fourth edition of the championships in Stuttgart,Germany in 1993.The title of the best performance in terms of time returned however goes to Fatimah Yusuf who ran 22.28 seconds personal best in Seville,Spain in 1999.
Falilat Ogunkoya is primus interpares in this event.She holds the titles of both the best performer in terms of time returned viz the 49.96 seconds she ran at the semi-final stage of the 7th edition of the championships in Seville,Spain in 1999 and the best placed Nigerian courtesy her fourth position (50.03 SECONDS) at the same championships.The trio of Patience Okon George,Regina George and Tosin Adeloye certainly have their jobs cut out for them.Regina made it to the semi-finals of the last edition where she ran her 50.84 seconds personal best.
Like Falilat Ogunkoya,Glory Alozie is the eternal queen of the high hurdles in Nigeria.Like Fali did,Glory also achieved her best mark in 1999 running 12.44 seconds to win a silver medal,Nigeria's first individual medal by a woman at the championships.The time remains the fastest ver ran by a Nigerian at the event and anywhere else while her poition (seconds) is also the bet ever achieved by a Nigerian in the event.American-turned Nigerian,Lindsay Lindley holds a personal best of 12.97 seconds and will have to get spiritual help to match both achievements in Beijing.
National record holder,Doreen Amata is the only athlete in the 17-man Nigerian team aiming to break her own records on both fronts.The first Nigerian athlete to make it to the championships, Doreen soared into the final in her second appearance at 13th edition of the championships in Daegu, South Korea,clearing height of 1.93m.That happens to be Nigeria's best placing and best performance at the biennial championships.
Omolade Akinremi and Muizat Ajoke Odumosu both ran as far as the semi-finals in 1995 and 2009 respectively to emerge Nigeria's joint top performers at the championships but Maria Usifo,who dominated the event in the 1980s holds the record of Nigeria's fastest in the event at the championships.She ran 56.13 seconds in heat three of the first round in Rome in 1987.
Amaka Ogoegbunam can better Usifo's performance if she can just repeat the 55.77 seconds personal season's best she ran in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland on July 5 this year.She can also equal the semi-final run of both Akinremi and Odumosu if she stays free and clean.In 2009 she actually qualified for the semis but was suspended shortly thereafter after she was adjudjed to have spiced her system with a performance enhancing substance.