For the 11th time in 19 editions, Team Nigeria finished their participation in the recently concluded World Athletics Championships without a medal.
Ese Brume and Tobi Amusan who were the team’s major hopefuls after recent exploits on the international stage failed to make podium appearances.
Brume had won a bronze medal in 2019 and a silver medal in 2022, while Amusan, who had placed fourth in 2019, made history as the first Nigerian to set a world outdoor record when she ran 12.12 seconds in the semifinals of the 100m hurdles event in Oregon. She followed it up with a first-ever gold medal by a Nigerian at World Athletics’ flagship event.
However, despite the high hopes for the team, their performance in Budapest was not as successful as anticipated. On the first day of the championship, Team Nigeria faced setbacks, with the mixed 4x400m quartet finishing 7th in their heat, eliminating them from the final.
Chukwuebuka Enekwechi narrowly missed out on a place in the Shot put final, placing 13th overall. This marked the first time since 2017 that the Nigerian record holder would miss out on a final in a global or continental event.
Although Brume progressed in the women’s Long Jump, Ruth Usoro narrowly missed the final. Seye Ogunlewe and Usheoritse Itsekiri secured spots in the semis with strong performances, but Favour Ashe faced disqualification due to noise from the stands.
As the championship progressed, Nigeria’s hopes of winning a medal dwindled as Seye Ogunlewe and Usheoritse Itsekiri did not make it past the semifinals in the men’s 100m.
Dubem Nwachukwu and Imaobong Nse Uko ended their 400m campaign in the heats, while Oyesade Olatoye did not advance further.
The President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Tonobok Okowa, has since attributed the failure in Budapest to insufficient preparations caused by financial constraints.
“We weren’t prepared for Budapest, that is the truth. There were no funds to camp and we did not monitor our athletes to know how they were doing, everybody just came to Budapest and that was it. But I am consoled that at least we were in some finals,” said the AFN boss.
Okowa also said he had already given up on world record holder, Amusan following her suspension by the World Athletics Athletes Integrity Unit, but was happy when she made it to Europe for the championships.
“We were already in Budapest when Tobi was cleared. And quite frankly she has not been training following the suspension. We had to bring in a psychologist to help her to be mentally prepared. And I must tell you that she did well getting to the final. It was a miracle she reached the final.
“Tobi’s coach left her and went to join the Jamaicans who were in camp for two weeks and then arrived in Budapest 10 good days ahead to warm up. That was a luxury we couldn’t afford and how then do we compete with the Jamaicans?”
However, Okowa said that the AFN is looking ahead to next year’s Olympics and the Africa Games with the hope that the country will return to winning ways.