Historically speaking, Nigeria is known to produce some of the finest 100m runners in world athletics, especially during the 80’s, 90’s and early millennium.
In fact, it was once projected by pundits that the nation will be among the Top 5 sprinting nations in the world, vying for top positions alongside Jamaica, USA and Great Britain.
Sadly, this projection didn’t become a reality as a sharp nosedive in the country’s sports system which emphatically affected Athletics, saw the nation struggle with producing and maintaining top talents to elite level – A resultant effect that led to the sudden drain of her best athletes to oil-rich Asian countries.
Hopefully all these will soon be past worries, as the current sprinters produced in the last few years has given a glimmer of hope that Nigeria, will be back among the league of sub-10s runners in the world again.
This will be clearly modified, as I continue my prediction on ‘What’s Next for Nigeria’s Men’s 100m in 2019’! Feel free to counter the predictions, but if things don’t go as predicted, don’t hold me accountable.
Sub-10s is Visible
In history Nigeria has produced eight sub-10s runners. These sprinters ran it consistently or very close to it getting to the pinnacle of their careers having Continental, World and Olympic medals to their names.
The last time a Nigerian male runner went under the 10s mark was in 2006, which interestingly is still the African Record (AR) of 9.85s by Olusoji Fasuba. Since then, such feat has not been attained by any athlete donning the Green and White colours of the country.
Will this change in 2019? I believe it will. The growth of the country’s sprinters in the past 4 years has given room for such optimism and prediction.
Starting with Divine Oduduru, he closed last season as the nation’s fastest on IAAF rank with his Personal Best (PB) of 10.10s, the fastest by a Nigerian since 2015.
His 2019 indoor season ended with him having 60m PB of 6.52s, placing him joint 4th on Nigeria’s all-time list. A positive note is that 95% of Nigerian speedsters who have raced below this time, have gone on to record sub-10s in their career.
In addition, Oduduru stunned the athletics world with a massive 200m indoor PB of 20.08s, which is No.3 all-time in world history. Based on speed statistics, it’s quite obvious the Texas Tech junior is on the right path for his first sub-10s and 20s in 2019.
Enoch Adegoke left the Australian city of Gold Coast, with a PB of 10.19s and Commonwealth final berth. At the West African University Games, he clocked another 10.21s for the win. Therefore, his average times in 2018, makes him Nigeria’s best and most promising home based sprinter.
The 19yr old and his coach have found a way on making him massively drop his Personal records by 0.20s yearly, in the past three years. If there’s a repetition of this same time drop this year, then my prediction is one that doesn’t need a fortune teller to affirm.
As Nigeria’s fastest man for three consecutive years, most pundits believed Seye Ogunlewe was the found runner to eventually break the 10s jinx.
While some may be disappointed he’s not gotten close to his PB of 10.12s since 2015, it’s right to note his consistency during this years, one which saw him with a 4th place finish at the Commonwealth Games clocking 10.19s.
He has a lot to prove this year which majorly includes retaining his National title, making the World Championships team and finally adding his name to the league of Nigeria’s 9secs runners.
Finally on my sub-10s prediction list is Usheoritse Itsekiri, who though his PB of 10.27s set while clinching the National Sports Festival (NSF) title may be a bit far from the barrier, one cannot fail to recognise the manner in which he dropped his times at the NSF.
His winning performance, proved his inclusion to rub shoulders with the big guns when it comes to winning at the top level. Betting in support of him running or getting close to their times as well, is a risk I’m willing to take.
Among these quartet, at least one of them will be a 9secs runner before the 2019 season is over. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a prediction that’ll come to pass.
What do you think, is sub-10s visible this year and are my predictions right on who’ll be breaking the jinx? Do you think there’s another athlete that can spring up a surprise? I’ll love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.