By Dare Esan:
The track and field event of the 11th All Africa Games will begin on Saturday inside the mainbowl of the Kintélé Sports Complex in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo with as many as five Nigerian athletes missing the chance to either make history or equal an existing record.
Four years ago at the Estádio do Zimpeto in Maputo, Mozambique, the athletes began the process of creating history but will sadly have no chance of completing what they started as they have either withdrawn from this year’s games or have simply retired.
Only high jumper Doreen Amata will have the chance to make history in Congo as she goes for her third title in her event. A win will make her the first high
jumper to win three consecutive high jump gold medals, soaring higher than the joint record of two consecutive wins she is sharing with compatriot,Modupe Oshikoya (1973 and 1978) and South Africa’s Hestrie Storbeck (1995 and 1999) who holds the African record.
Today,Complete Sports reveals the possible records the athletes would have set in Congo with their presence.
TOSIN OKE (Triple Jump): Fresh from an impressive outing in Beijing at the 15th IAAF World Championships where he became only the third Nigerian triple jumper to make it to the final of the event,row over refund of flight ticket forced the former British international to withdraw from the 11th All Africa Games. With his absence Oke has not only lost the chance to defend the title he won in a dramatic fashion four years ago in Maputo,winning the gold with his last (sixth) jump of the competition,he has also lost the chance of becoming the second man in Games history to win a consecutive triple jump gold.Ghana’s Andrew Owusu became the first man to win back-to-back titles when in 2003 in Abuja he successfully defended the title he won in Johannesburg in 1999.
BLESSING OKAGBARE (Long Jump): Double Commonwealth sprint queen Okagbare voluntarily withdrew from this year’s games in Congo and gave up the chance of equalling compatriot Modupe Oshikoya’s consecutive gold medal wins at the 1973 and 1978 All Africa Games.
Okagbare won the long jump gold four years ago in Maputo, improving on her silver medal win four years earlier in Algiers, where she made her debut. The gold medal would have been handed over to the Sapele-born athlete without breaking sweat albeit she didn’t do much of long jumping this out-going season in the IAAF Diamond League circuit.
AJOKE ODUMOSU (400m Hurdles): 2012 Olmpics 400m hurdles finalist Odumosu’s comeback bid after procreation didn’t go as planned as she failed to make the team to Congo for the African Games and thus lost the chance to become the first woman to win a consecutive 400m hurdles title in the history of the Games.She won (56.26) her first title four years ago in Maputo beating South Africa’s Wenda Theron comfortably (57.13).
OLUDAMOLA OSAYOMI (100m,200m): Sprinter, Osayomi’s inability to successfully come back to form after becoming a mother has denied her the chance of making real history in Congo. The 2007 IAAF Worlds 100m finalist had made history in Maputo four years ago when she became the first woman to successfully complete a back-to-back sprint double at two consecutive editions of the All Africa Games.In simple terms she won the 100m and 200m gold at the 2007 (Algiers) and 2011 (Maputo) editions of the Games.
In the process she eqaulled Mary Onyali’s record of two consecutive 100m gold (1991,1995) wins while in the half lap she created her own piece of history by becoming the first woman to win two consecutive gold medals.
An appearance in Congo would have given her the chance to move clear of any record (s),including her own.She would have become the first in Games history to win three consecutive 100m titles,three consecutive 200m titles and to crown it all she would have probably become the first woman in history to successfully complete a sprint double in three consecutive games,something the great Usain Bolt has been unable to do in the history of the IAAF Worlds and will now attempt next year in Rio at the Olympics.
OIsayomi has also lost the chance to become the first sprinter to breal 11 seconds in the blue ribband event. Four years ago,an excessive tail wind rendered her 10.90 seconds run illegal. Another Nigerian, Mercy Nku, holds the games record with the altitude-aided 11.03 seconds she ran to win the title in 1999 in Johannesburg,South Africa.
SEUN ADIGUN (100m Hurdles): USA-based sprint hurdler Adigun became the ninth Nigerian to win the 100m hurdles gold at the games following her victory in Maputo at the 10th edition of the Games.It was her debut at the games and she has thus joined the illustrious class of Modupe Oshikoya,Angela Atiede and Glory Alozie among others.None of the other eight Nigerians was able to successfully defend the titles they won.Neither was Ghana’s Rose Hart who won the gold medal at the inaugural edition of the games in 1965,incidentally in Congo.Sadly,Adigun will also not have the opportunity to defend the title she won in Maputo thereby losing the chance of becoming the first woman in Games history to win a consecutive sprint hurdles title.