The 16th IAAF World Championships taking place in the British city of London are already half way into the competition, having started on Friday, August 4th and expected to finish on Sunday,13th.
Several top performances have been recorded by athletes, with the medals table already taking shape separating the best track and field nations in the world from the upcoming ones.
Team Nigerian athletes have not been left out in action either, as they have produced a lukewarm outing at the Championships thus far; failing to make the final of the events they’ve participated in.
While many may see this as disappointing and not lukewarm, considerations can be made in the fact that some of the team members arrived very late at the competition due to visa issues, while most of them are making their debuts at the senior level at the London Championships.
Without digressing, here’s a summary of the athletes that have donned the colors of the country so far and their performances at the world’s biggest athletics event.
The Nigerian record holder was the first to kick things off for the National team, when she competed in the 100m Heats, clocking 11.22s to finish 2nd in her heat. A day later, she was back on the track in the semis, trying to make her first final in two years.
However, things were not to be as her time of 11.08s was just 0.01s shy of the last qualifying spot. The sprints sensation will be disappointed with her performance, as she has recorded a Season’s Best (SB) of 10.99s, which would have been more than enough to qualify for the final.
As the only male Nigerian representative in the 400m, Nathaniel had so much on his shoulders to deliver. The expectations however reduced, when it was learnt that he was among those that had visa issues, and would arrive at the venue just a day before his race.
In his heat, he raced to a time of 46.63s to finish 5th and miss out in the semifinals.
The 23-year old made his international debut for the country, when he participated in the men’s Shot Put qualifying rounds. He had a SB of 21.07m coming to London, and was expected to hit or surpass the automatic qualifying mark of 20.75m, or be in the top 12 in order to make the final. Unfortunately, things were not to be for the Purdue graduate as his best throw of 19.72m could only earn him the 25th position on the standings. Speaking after his race, he said: “I wish I had performed better, had everything going for me before coming here. I hope to perform better at future Championships for the country.”
Just like Enekwechi, Ajayi made her debut for the country in the women’s 400m. The talented athlete, who arrived just a day before her race, opened her account on an impressive note, clocking 51.58s to place 3rd in her Heat and qualify for the semifinals. In the semis, Ajayi couldn’t replicate her performance, racing to a time of 52.10s to take the 6th position.
After her race, she said in a video interview to Athletics Africa “I wish my coach was here with me, I would have performed better and run faster.”
The Nigerian Leader in the quatermile event made her second consecutive individual outing in the history of the Championship, when she competed in her Heat to place 2nd with a time of 51.83s.
A below par performance of 52.62s in the semis, saw her exit the competition and end her dream of a first final at a global Championship.
Okon-George will be gunning to help her teammates get to the 4x400m final when they compete later in the week, and hopefully achieve a podium placement before the competition ends on Sunday.
Bamgbose was the third of the three quatermilers that had an impressive Heat performance time of 51.57s, but was later knocked out in the semifinals. She’s also expected to be in the 4x400m relay team that’ll aim for a final berth in the event.
The 400m Hurdler has had the most impressive performance by a Nigerian athlete thus far, having raced to a PB of 55.30s which was good enough for the third automatic qualifying spot in her heat.
In the semifinal, after hitting a few hurdles which altered her momentum, the 21-year could only manage 5th position which didn’t qualify her for a final spot. It was later on discovered by the organizers that she had a lane infringement, which later on led to her disqualification.
Nathaniel has been listed in the 4x400m relay team as well, and will be hoping she can make another appearance at the London Stadium.
As it stands, no Team Nigeria athlete has qualified for the final of any event, which is a bitter-sweet tale by most athletics pundits in the country. The expectation now is that things will get better as the Championship progresses, and hopefully the country gets a medal before the closing ceremony on Sunday.