By Dare Esan:
Fast-rising 400m barrier runner Glory Onome Nathaniel is seeking to become the second Nigerian woman to win the 400m hurdles title at the Commonwealth Games after Muizat Ajoke Odumosu’s historic feat at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in India in 2010.
Odumosu was the second Nigerian woman then to run in the finals of the event after Maria Usifo in 2010 and since her 55.28 seconds performance landed her at the podium that October night in India, no other Nigerian has made it to the medals zone.
The closest was Amaka Ogoegbunam who was disqualified in the final of the event four years ago in Glasgow, Scotland.
On Thursday, Nathaniel wants to return Nigeria to the podium again and hopes she can spring a surprise by racing to glory albeit all the odds are stacked against her.
Last year she raced to the semi-finals of the IAAF Worlds in London and looks set for a big performance after smashing her personal best with a big 50.30 seconds run in the first round but she infringed on IAAF competition rule 163.3 in the penultimate race and she was accordingly disqualified.
IAAF competition rule 163.3 states that if an athlete strays into an inside lane or even steps on the line it is a disqualification but only on the bend.
It was a big blow for the then 21 year old as she was bidding to become the first Nigerian woman to run in the finals of the event at the IAAF flagship event.
This morning at the Carrara Stadium in Gold Coast,she will seek history on two fronts viz becoming the second Nigerian woman to win the 400m gold and also the second to run inside 55
seconds,something only Odumosu has done.
In the second semi-final of the event Tuesday morning,Nathaniel ran a new 55.01 seconds personal best to place third and qualify for today’s final.
She has been drawn to run from lane seven Thursday morning and she will have to break 55 seconds to have any hope of making the podium.
Nathaniel will have to contend with athletes who have have ran sub-54 and sub-55 seconds in the form of Jamaica’s Janieve Russell whose 54.01 seconds run to win the first semi-final catapaulted her to the top of the world list.She was a bronze medal winner four years ago in Glasgow where she also picked a 4x400m gold.
Also ahead of the Nigerian in ranking are Scotland’s Elidih Doyle,silver medallist in the last two editions of the games in 2010 (India) and 2014 (Glasgow) and bronze medal winner at the 2016 Rio Olympiocs as well as South Africa’s Wenda Nel who was second in the second semi-final ahead of the Nigerian with a 54.61 seconds run, the second fastest time of the year so far behind Russell.
Ristananna Tracey,bronze medallist at the IAAF Worlds in 2017 could spring a surprise albeit she is yet to break 55 seconds so far this year but she holds a 53.74 seconds personal best.
Meanwhile Yinka Ajayi raced home last in the final of the women’s 400m on Wednesday.She ran 52.26 seconds to come in eighth in a race won for the second time in eight years by Botswana’s Monthso Amantle (50.15) with the Jamaican duo of Le-Roy Anastasia (50.57) and defending champion McPherson Stephenie (50.93) coming second and third respectively.
Ajayi’s 52.26 seconds return is the third worst time recorded by Nigeria in the final of the event after Margaret Etim’s 52.66 seconds run in 2010 in India which got her the seventh position and Folasade Abugan’s 52.3 clocking which fetched her the fourth position.
In the women’s 200m, the duo of Praise Idamadudu and Isoken Igbinosun failed to advance to Thursday’s final.Idamadudu ran 23.69 seconds to place seventh in the second semi-final while Igbinosun also came in seventh in the third and final semi-final heat, running 24.03 seconds.
Like the women,Emmanuel Arowolo did not fare any better as his 21.25 seconds return was only good enough to earn him the eighth and final spot in the first semi-final.
Long jumper Precious Okonkwor failed to replicate her 6.43m personal best leap as she could only lift herself to a 6.12m finish. A repeat of the 6.43m she achieved in Abuja last February or even a 6.24m would have been enough to get her into Thursday’s final.
In the Javelin throw final,Kelechi Nwanaga’s 53.17m first round throw was the best she could offer and it was only good enough for a fifth place finish as the Australian duo of Kathryn Mitchell (68.92m) and Kelsey-Lee Roberts (63.89m) picked the gold and silver respectively while 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games champion, South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen (62.08m) came in third to also add to the silver medal she won four years ago in Glasgow.