June 22, 2017

S/African sprinters threaten Fasuba’s 100m record

S/African sprinters threaten Fasuba’s 100m record

Trying Times… Nigerian athletes (from left) Divine Oduduru, Tega Odele, Obinna Metu and Ogho-Oghene Egwero asking questions about the future of athletics in Nigeria.

By Ben Efe

South African sprinters Wayde van Niekerk and Akanni Simbine are out with a mission this season to erase the men’s African 100m mark of 9.85seconds held by Olusoji Fasuba.

The record set by the Nigerian sprinter in Doha in 2006, is a reminder of the fact that the country was once a power house in the African sprints. But it seems all that has come to an end as the South African duo have been coming closer to the mark in recent performances.

Van Niekerk at the Rio 2016 Olympics Games rocked the 400m men with a 43.03 run to break Michael Johnson’s. On Tuesday at a meet in Velenje, Slovenia ran a personal best of 9.94 seconds to become the first man to have broken the 10-second, 20-second and 44-second barriers in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

However, Simbine who holds the South Africa record with a time of 9.89seconds is the man likely to break of Fasuba’s record. Ahead of the World Championships billed for August in London, Simbine is one of the top contenders with a second best world leading time of 9.92 seconds.

This is just as Nigerian male sprinters are yet to book their qualification for the World Championships; with the July 1 deadline set by the IAAF for athletes to achieve the standards of 10.12 secs looming.

There is little time left for preparations and it is not clear, if the AFN could muster courage and run a trial with the hope of seeing more Nigerian athletes make the qualification marks.

Only a couple of female athletes including Tobi Amusan (100m hurdles), Margaret Bamgbose (400m), Ese Brume (long jump) and the women 4x100m quartet have met the World Championships mark.

Matters have not been helped by the uncertainty surrounding the board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria after the controversial board elections on June 13. President-elect of the AFN, Ibrahim Gusau admitted that it will not be an easy task repositioning Nigerian athletics.

“There is so much we could do to revive athletics in Nigeria. This is not the best of times, but I’m calling on everyone that is a stakeholder and even those who are not but have passion for athletics should all come out so we can work together and make athletics work again.

“We need to go back to those beautiful days when our athletes were doing so well,” Gusau stated.