By Sab Osuji In Brazzaville:
The Nigerian trio of Obinna Metu,Divine Oduduru and Tega Odele Wednesday raced into the final of the 200m event which will come up Thursday evening in Kintele, Brazzaville, Congo.
Metu ran 20.55 seconds,one hundreth of a second off his personal best to win the first semi-final heat to qualify for his second 200m final in three appearances.He won a bronze medal in his debut at the Games in 2007 but fell at the semi-final stage four years later in Maputo,Mozambique.
Oduduru,the former junior international will however be running in his first final after setting two personal best to qualify.He first improved his personal best to 20.56 seconds in the first round heat before cutting five hundreth of a second off it in the semi-final,clocking 20.51 seconds to win and zoom into the final.
Reigning Nigeria champion,Odele will also be running in his first open final at the Games after improving his personal best to 20.45 seconds in the first round.He however trailed behind Cote D’Ivoire’s Koffy Wilfried Hua,the only threat to a Nigeria clean sweep of the medals in the final,who ran 20.85 seconds against the Nigerian’s 20.98 seconds in the third semi-final heat.
The trio will be seeking to return Nigeria to the summit of the event 12 years after Uchenna Emedolu became the third Nigerian after Sunday Bada (1995) and Francis Obikwelu (1999) to win the title.
In the women’s version,only the duo of Lawretta Ozoh and Ngozi Onwumere,both members of the 4x100m gold winning relay team made it to the final while the third girl,Regina George,who qualified for the semi-final failed to show up for the race.
Ozoh,who anchored the relay team to gold ran 23.47 seconds to come second behind huge favourite,Cote D’Ivoire’s Marie Jose Talou (22.93) while Onwumere won her heat in 23.53 seconds.
The duo will be hoping to continue with the winning streak started by Mary Onyali in 1987 in Nairobi,Kenya.