This year’s edition of Nigeria’s National Track & Field Championships and Invitational Relays will begin this Wednesday and hold until next Monday, June 21 at Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) sports ground in Lagos, megasportsarena.com reports.
This was disclosed by the secretary-general of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Prince Adeniyi Adisa Beyioku, who affirmed that this year’s championship will be used as trials to pick the country’s contingent to the delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, which is scheduled to hold from July 23 to August 8.
Beyioku stated in a letter sent to state athletics associations, military, para military and clubs that the championship will take place under strict compliance with COVID-19 sports code protocols outlined by the Federal Government for sports engagement.
The AFN scribed explained further that Wednesday is for arrivals of invited athletes and others that have met the competition’s entry standard, while competition proper will start on Thursday and continue for four days.
He added that a six-nation invitational relay will be held on the sidelines of the championship, which will begin just two days after a new board is expected to emerge for the AFN at Monday’s elective congress in Abuja.
While affirming that national championship is the flagship event of the AFN, where the nation’s top athletes will converge to compete for honours and qualifications for international events, Beyioku went on to list Zambia, Botswana, Benin Republic, Cameroun and Zimbabwe as the five countries confirmed to join Nigeria in the relay event in Lagos.
The AFN scribe also spoke on recent developments for the country ahead of Tokyo 2020, as he disclosed that Nigeria’s men’s 4x100m and women’s 4x400m teams are just a step from making it to the Games, as they are ranked 17th in their respective events.
The men’s 4x100m team has a best of 38.59 seconds that has placed the team just outside the qualification ranking and needs to run at least 38.45 seconds to move into 16th spot ahead of Trinidad and Tobago (38.46) and Turkey (38.47).
The women’s 4x400m team is also placed 17th with the 3:30.32 it ran at the African Games in 2019 and will need to break 3.30 to sneak into the qualification spot although a sub 3.29 will seal qualification without looking at their backs.
Beyioku added: ”The AFN is set to host another top class national championships and this year’s edition will be used to select the athletes who will represent Nigeria at the delayed 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan from late next month.
“The invitational relays have become very important as it, for now, remains the only window left for Nigeria to secure qualifications for the relay events of the Olympics. We know our women’s 4x100m team have qualified provisionally for Tokyo and we are confident others will also make the cut before the June 29, 2021 final deadline for qualification.
“Apart from the relays, the championships is also the final window for our athletes to qualify for their individual events. So far 11 athletes have qualified and they are Blessing Okagbare (100m,200m), Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, Favour Ofili (200m).
“Tobi Amusan (100m Hurdles), Ese Brume (Long Jump), Ruth Usoro (Long and Triple Jump), Annette Echiunwoke (Hammer Throw), Divine Oduduru (100m, 200m), Raymond Ekevwo (100m), Usheoritse Itshekiri (100m) and Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (Shot Put)”