By Ben Efe
NIGERIAN athletes to the African Athletics Championships beginning today in Durban have an uphill task of winning medals in the face of rapid improvements made by athletes of rival countries like South Africa and Cote ‘d Ivoire.
Also training conditions and motivation have not helped the cause of Nigeria’s representatives who arrived Durban in batches, a development which led to the withdrawal of Nigeria’s most consistent sprinter, Ogho-Oghene Egwero from the championships. Tobiloba Amusa who has the African leading time in the women 100m hurdles has also opted out.
It is now left for youngster Divine Oduduru and veteran Obinna Metu to face the challenge of beating the likes of Henricho Bruintjie with a personal best of 9.97 and Akani Simbine with a personal best of 9.96.
The South Africans are expected to win even as Ivorians Ben Yousef Meite 9.99 personal best and Wilfried Koffi with 10.01 are strong contenders for the men’s 100m.
The women’s race, which will be decided on Thursday is another hard land to sow for the Nigerian ladies. Ivorian Murielle Ahoure, who recently took Blessing Okagbare’s African record to the cleaners with 10. 78 seconds, is favoured to win.
Okagbare’s participation is not clear, but it would certainly be a blast to see how she copes with Ahoure, Marie Ta Lou and even emerging South African runners Allysa Conley and Carina Horn who has a personal best of 11.06 seconds.
“Things are tough, we must face the reality. The credentials Cote’d Ivoire is packing to the championships is frightening, especially Ahoure breaking Okagbare’s record.
“However, we just hope to do our best,” said AFN board member Professor Ken Anugueje.