By Dare Esan:
Reigning African 100m hurdles queen, Tobiloba Amusan will be seeking a place in history books as the second Nigerian nay African sprint hurdler to win gold at the IAAF Continental Cup when she takes to the track today (Saturday) at the Mestsky Stadion in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Glory Alozie made history as the first woman sprint hurdler to scale home first when she set a 12.58 seconds competition record to win in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1998. The record stood till four years ago when Dawn-Harper Nelson ran 12.47 seconds to win the gold for the Americas in Marakech, Morocco.
Amusan will however need to run faster than Alozie ran in 1998 and probably a little faster than Harper-Nelson’s championship record to actualise that dream.
Standing before the Nigerian and a place in history books are two athletes representing the Americas. The first is USA’s Kendra Harrison, the fastest sprint hurdler of all time at 12.20 seconds and the world leader in 2018 at 12.36 seconds.
The second is Jamaica’s Danielle Williams who played second fiddle to the Nigerian at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia last April.
Interestingly, the trio ran at the final of the event at the IAAF Diamond League in Brussels, Belgium with Harrison coming second behind McNeal Brianna while Williams was third and Amusan fourth. It looks a herculean task for the petite Amusan who is seeking a third title in 2018.
Also seeking a unique place in history books is shot putter, Enekwechi Chukwuebuka who is eyeing his first global title after winning silver at the Commonwealth Games and gold at the Asaba 2018 African Championship last month. The Nigerian will however need to out put the man who denied him gold in Gold Coast, Australia, New Zealander, Tom Walsh who tops the world list with 22.67m and he is one of the four athletes who have hit 22m and above this season.
Chukwuebuka also has Ryan Crouser from the USA to contend with. Crouser’s 22.65m season’s best is the second best throw in the event this term.
Other Nigerians who will be in action today (Saturday)4 are Temi Ogunrinde who picked the silver medal in the women’s hammer event at the African Championship last month in her competitive debut for Nigeria, Chioma Onyekwere in the Discus Throw, the women’s 4x100m Relay Team and of course Grace Anigbata who won Nigeria’s first ever triple jump gold at the African Championship last month.
Meanwhile, Divine Oduduru will not be competing in the men’s 200m event as his name was conspicuously missing from the startlist for the event released by the IAAF.
Oduduru came second behind South Africa’s Ncinchili Tili in Asaba at the last African Championship, but while Till’s name was listed, that of the Nigerian was not, bringing to two the names of the country’s athletes with automatic qualification for the competition not listed for their respective events.
Quartermile hurdler, Onome Glory Nathaniel will not be competing in the 400m hurdles despite emerging champions in Asaba.
Only four Nigerians have mounted the podium as the continental champions since the inaugural event in 1979 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Late Sunday Bada won the 400m gold and anchored the African 4x400m Relay Team to first place in Havana, Cuba in 1992.
Falilat Ogunkoya and Alozie struck gold in the 400m and 100m hurdles respectively in Johannesburg in 1998 while Uchenna Emedolu raced home first (10.06 seconds) in pouring rain at the Estadio Peineta in Madrid, Spain in 2002,four years earlier. Seun Ogunkoya ran a blistering 9.92 seconds Nigeria record but could not overhaul Obadele Thompson of Barbados who raced home first in 9.87 seconds.