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World relays: Team Nigeria commence quest for Olympic Games spots

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Team Nigerian will begin their quest for tickets to all five relay events of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in other countries at the World Athletics Relays, which begins on Saturday (today) in Nassau, Bahamas.

The two-day global event will see 893 athletes from 54 countries vie for slots at the centenary games on Saturday and Sunday, as confirmed by World Athletics.

The event serves as a qualifier for the Paris Olympics, with the top 14 teams in each event at the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24 qualifying automatically for places at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The remaining two places in each discipline will be awarded based on top lists during the qualification period (31 December 2022, to 30 June 30 2024).

Team Nigeria is currently ranked second in Africa after Kenya and 16th best in the world after clinching gold in the 4x100m, bronze in the 4x400m, one fourth and fifth place finish, and three seventh place finishes for a total of 29 points at the World Relays.

The women’s 100m hurdles world record holder, Tobi Amusan, headlines the list of 29 athletes confirmed to represent Nigeria at the event.

Amusan has been instrumental to Nigeria’s recent success in the women’s 4x100m relay, securing gold at both the African Games and Commonwealth Games, the latter being rescinded due to a doping infraction by another member of the relay team.

The 26-year-old is joined by Nigeria’s 200m record holder Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Justina Eyakpobeyan, Tima Godbless, Elo Blessing, and African Games double sprint medalist Olayinka Olajide.

A surprise omission from the men’s 4x100m team list is Favour Ashe, Nigeria’s fastest man this year with two sub-10 second finishes (9.96 seconds and 9.99 seconds).

The 21-year-old Auburn University undergraduate has been in excellent outdoor form, yet his name was left out of the final entry list released by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.

No reason has been provided for his exclusion, though sources suggest the sprinter was not released by his university to be in the Bahamas.

With this development, Godson Oghenebrume and Udodi Onwuzurike will lead Nigeria’s charge in the men’s 4x100m, alongside Alaba Akintola, Karlington Anunagba, Consider Ekanem, Seye Ogunlewe, and Israel Okon Sunday.

Their goal is to secure a top-14 finish and earn a coveted lane at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, a feat Nigeria hasn’t achieved since the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

In the 4x400m men, African Games champion Chidi Okezie leads the charge for a return to the Olympics since 2004 in Athens, Greece.

Joining him are Sikiru Adeyemi, Dubem Amene, Ezekiel Nathaniel and his brother Samson Nathaniel, Dubem Nwanchukwu, Samuel Ogazi, and Ifeanyi Ojeli.

The Nigerian quarter milers at the African Games in Accra in March head into Nassau as the third fastest nation in the world this year with a time of 3:01:84 seconds behind Zambia, who clocked a national record of 2:59.12 seconds to win at the African Games, while Botswana is in second place.

The women’s 4x400m squad boasts Omolara Ogunmakinju, the African Games hero who turned silver into gold for Nigeria in the mixed relay.

She will be joined by the rapidly improving Ella Onojuvwevwo (recent 51.32 seconds—a personal best), African Games silver medalist Elo Joseph (three sub-52 second runs in Accra), and veteran Patience Okon George.

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