Let’s begin with a fact: Do you know no Nigerian male athlete participated in the 200m at the 2017 London World Championships?
Well, that has changed this year as at least two of our top sprinters have surpassed the qualifying mark of 20.40s for Doha.
Divine Oduduru, is the expected leader with a PB of 19.73s and sits No.3 on IAAF world list. If he chooses to compete, then he’s the outstanding pick to reclaim his National title from 2016.
Meanwhile, gunning to defend his National crown from 2017 is Emmanuel Arowolo, whose PB of 20.37s ran last weekend at the Cameroon Grand Prix, automatically qualified him for the World Championships.
Both athletes have what it takes to go all the way for the win and the top positions, but will get stiff competitions in Usheoritse Itsekiri, Jerry Jakpa and Ogho Egwero.
Itsekiri, has had a magnificent breakout year on the international scene so far, producing brilliant performances in most of the races he has competed in the European circuit, one of them which was running a PB of 20.53s in Kortrijk.
Jakpa, showed outstandingly he’s a man in form after winning the African Games trials in a PB of 20.59s, defeating Arowolo in the process.
He brings same or better form to kaduna, and the trio mentioned above know they have to produce the best performance of their lives on home soil, to stop his victory.
Not to forget Egwero, who’s also in the mix for a podium placement having ran a SB of 20.64s and followed it up with 20.77s, in Germany last week.
The battle line is drawn as the second most competitive event, and we can only drool on the possibilities of having a third Doha qualifier at the end of the championship.
Blessing Okagbare, is the Nigerian leader in this event with a SB of 22.05s, though her chances of competing against the youngsters are very slim if not none.
Therefore, the focus will shift on rising sensation Favour Ofili, who ran a PB of 23.24s for victory at the African Games trials in Abuja last month. A victory for Ofili in this event, will probably make her Nigeria’s youngest champion in history at just 17yrs old.
However, she knows she’ll be in for some serious competition from fellow youth prodigy, Anita Taviore who is in the best shape of her life.
Taviore, finished 2nd to Ofili at the 2019 African U18 Championships in Abidjan, and also secured same spot in Abuja but with a faster time and PB of 23.68s.
They’ll hugely fancy their chances against their senior counterparts such as, Praise Idamadudu (23.69s), Cecilia Francis (23.72s) and Rosemary Chukwuma (23.81s).
Like the men’s event, this is also an open one with the exception of the leader’s in each category. The winner will most definitely have done enough to be crowned champion.