All is now set for the first Warri Relays and athletics buffs are awash with expectations of seeing top level competition as had never been witnessed before in the Oil City.
The meet is the brain-child of Athletics Federation of Nigeria president Solomon Ogba who is a great admirer of the American Penn andTexasrelays. Of course, today’s fiesta also incorporates the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Grand Prix which upgrades it to an Olympic qualification meet.
Athletes competing today in Warri are fromUSA,Jamaica,Bahamas, St. Kitts & Nevis,St. Vincent,Egypt,Cameroon,Botswana,Morocco,Algeria,Senegal,Ghana,Sierra Leone,Kenya,Ethiopia,LiberiaandUganda.
The setting presents a beautiful atmosphere for Nigerians to see their top athletes compete for honours before heading down to Calabar for the final Olympic selection trials. One of such events is the women high jump, where two-time All Africa Games high jump champion, Doreen Amata will begin to look over her shoulder for Uhunoma Osazuwa. Osazuwa is not your regular high jumper. She is the national heptathlon record holder but last month cleared 1.84m at a meet inCanadato be in contention for podium placement here. Ahounoawan Odile of Benin Republic and Marie Michael of St Vincent are other outsiders for the title.
Amata, who last year in Maputo, Mozambique successfully defended the high jump title she won in 2007 at the Algiers All Africa Games has been struggling with injury since the start of the season but the mother of one insists there is no cause for alarm.
“ I am fit and battle ready’’, observed the athlete who is on record as the first Nigerian woman high jumper to make it to the finals of the prestigious IAAF World Championships in Athletics last year in Daegu, South Korea.
“Things have not particularly gone as I wished it to be this season, especially after I came back from childbirth to have what is definitely my best season last year,’’ continued Amata who holds the national record at 1.95m and has been dubbed Nigeria’s greatest high jumper of all time.