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Paris 2024: Nigeria’s biggest medal prospects in athletics

Although qualifiers particularly in athletics will continue until a few weeks to the Games in Paris, at least nine members of Team Nigeria athletics have…

Although qualifiers particularly in athletics will continue until a few weeks to the Games in Paris, at least nine members of Team Nigeria athletics have so far punched their tickets to the 2024 Olympics. Interestingly, going by their recent performances, indications are strong that Nigeria will fare better than the last outing in Tokyo where athletics didn’t win a single medal.

As a matter of fact, Nigeria’s only saving grace was Blessing Oborududu’s silver in wrestling and Ese Brume’s bronze in the long jump event.

Nigeria has won only three gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze for a total of 27 medals in 18 appearances at the Olympics beginning from 1952. Till date, Chioma Ajunwa, is the only individual gold medallist at the games. However, with the sparkling performances of Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume, Ruth Usoro, Favour Ashe, Favour Ofili and a host of others, there are promising signs that at least one of them will spring a surprise in Paris.

Trust Sports, therefore, takes a look at the profiles of some members of Team Athletics who hold Nigeria’s biggest medal prospects as we begin the countdown to the 2024 Paris Olympics.  

Tobi Amusan

Tobi’s first appearance at the Olympics was in Rio 2016 where she finished in the semi-final in the heat race and came close to the medals bracket in the next edition in Tokyo 2022 finishing fourth in the 100m hurdles.

She is currently the world record holder in the 100 metres hurdles with a time of 12.12 seconds which she set at the 2022 women’s 100 metres hurdles semi final in Eugene Oregon.

Also, she is the current Commonwealth and African champion in the 100 m hurdles, as well as the meet record holder in those two competitions.  She won back-to-back Commonwealth and African titles in 2018 and 2022 in the 100 m hurdles and is also a two-time African Games champion in the event.

She is also the current Diamond league champion in the 100 metres hurdles having won the final in 12.33 seconds (+1.8m/s) achieving a winning streak in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Recently, she clinched her third title as the champion of the 100 metres hurdles at the African Games held in Ghana.

Ese Brume

Brume boasts of an impressive record of winning a bronze medal in the Long Jump event at the last   2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with a jump of 6.97 m behind Germany’s Malaika Mihambo who clinched gold with 7.00m jump.

Before clinching the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, she finished 5th in the Long Jump final with a leap of 6.81m in Rio 2019.

However, in the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, she won the bronze medal in the Long Jump with a jump of 6.91with a jump of 6.91m and In 2022, she became the first African woman in history to jump four legal marks over 7.00m

She is also the only athlete to win three consecutive Long Jump titles at the African Championships in Athletics as well as the first African to win two Long Jump medals at the World Athletics Championships

She is the current commonwealth champion and a three-time African senior champion in the long Jump and holds a personal best of 7.17 m (23 ft 6).

Ruth Usoro

Usoro earned her qualification to the 2024 Olympics in Paris after her jump at the Jarvis Scott Open in February.

After earning her place in Paris, the NIgerian Long,Triple Jump , 60 Metres, 100 Metres and 200 Metres athlete won gold in the triple jump at the 2023 African Games in Accra In March 2024.

Usoro represented Nigeria in long and triple jump without getting close to medal bracket in Tokyo 2020

In February 2021 she jumped 6.82m in the long jump to meet the qualifying standard for the delayed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. It was the 2nd best jump in the world for the season at the time and the 3rd best on the Nigerian all-time list alongside Ese Brume. 

Favour Ofili

The Nigerian athlete recently secured her place in the women’s 200m event at the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games after recording a massive victory at the Tom Jones Memorial Classic at the James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

She owns a record as silver medalist and is the 2019 African Games silver medallist in the 400 metres. Ofili won silver in the 200 metres at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Favour Ashe

The Auburn University, Alabama student competed in his first outdoor race of the season and his second overall in 2024 to become the first man in the world this season to run a sub-10 and instantly struck the Paris 2024 Olympic standard with his fast time.

Ashe ran 9.99s in the men’s 100m at the Florida Relays and it has been officially approved as the world lead in 2024 by the World Athletics and he is also the 12th Nigerian to break the 10s mark.

Ashe is the second Nigerian to produce a world lead this year after African Games gold medallist, Consider Ekanem, ran 10.10s at the inaugural Dynamic Outdoor Meet held on January 27 at the Nigerian Navy Sports Centre, Ojo, Lagos.

He will also hope to put Nigeria in the final of the men’s 100m again at the Olympics, after Enoch Adegoke became the first man since Davidson Ezinwa and Olapade Adeniken to reach the 100m final of the Olympic Games.

Chukwuebuka Enekwechi

2022 Commonwealth silver medallist, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi set a new African record of 21.63m in the Shot Put at the 2024 Hvezdy v Nwhvizdech Indoor Tour Silver World Athletics in Czech Republic.

Prior to that, he had won his first national title in 2016 and added consecutive titles from 2021 to 2023. He proved his mettle when he defended his title as African Games champions, winning gold medal with a throw of 21.06m at Ghana 2023.

It will be noted that he had finished 12th in the Tokyo Olympics with 19.74m as against America’s Ryan Crouser who finished first with 23.30m throw.

The African Games champion went further to beat the Paris 2024 Olympics qualifying mark and broke the 13-year-old African indoor record of 21.47m, which was set by Janus Roberts South Africa) in 2001.

He finished second in the event behind New Zealand’s Tom Walsh who reached a mark of 21.96m.

Enekwechi landed a 21.54m in the men’s Shot Put at the World Indoor Final in Madrid 2024 to finish fourth overall three days after setting his own African Record.

Ezekiel Nathaniel 

400 metre hurdles shattered the Nigerian record with an astonishing time of 48.29 seconds despite finishing third in the 2024 season at the Tom Jones Invitational in Florida.

Not only did he break the Nigerian Record of 48.42s he set as a freshman at Baylor University in 2022, he also improved the school record.

His feat at the invitational ensured his automatic qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympics. The 2023 World Athletics Championship semi-finalist now has the fastest two times by a Nigerian in the history of the event. He also holds a big prospect for a medal at the games.

It is hoped that before the Games commence in July, more athletes would qualify to fly Nigeria’s flag in the different athletics events in Paris.

 

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