Nigeria’s 3rd Relay Medal was a fantastic Silver medal in the Men’s 4×100 metres at the Barcelona ’92 Games, in a race that Team Nigeria was surpassed only by a then World Record by Team USA’s ‘fantastic four’. Once again, we must tell the Nigerian story through the eyes of Americans, who have immortalised Carl Lewis and the rest of their quartet in this video:
The Nigeria quartet of Oluyemi Kayode (RIP), Chidi Imoh, Olapade Adeniken and Davidson Ezinwa ran what was an African Record (37.98s) at the time, and they read like a who’s who in the history of Nigerian elite sprinting. These were the guys that ushered Nigeria into an era of sub-10 second sprinting. Chidi Imoh was the first African to run 10 seconds flat in the 100 metres, and even though he never broke that magical barrier, he was a 3-time African Champion in the 80’s and a 60m Bronze Medallist at the 1991 World Indoor Championships. Ezinwa and Adeniken were the first Nigerians to break the 10 second barrier and have PBs of 9.94s and 9.95s respectively – they both contested the 100m final at Barcelona ’92!
Kayode was the least heralded but he’s certainly not forgotten – along with Adeniken, he contested the 200m final at the same Barcelona Olympics! To put this feat into perspective, no Nigerian man has reached the 200m Olympic finals since then! Kayode tragically lost his life in a car accident in the US in 1994 – a stadium in his home state, Ado-Ekiti, is name in his honour. Such was Nigeria’s strength in depth in sprinting in the 90’s that Davidson’s twin brother, Osmond Ezinwa (PB 10.05s) only ran in the heats at Barcelona ’92, while Victor Omagbemi, who was the African 100m & 200m Champion that very year, did not even make the team!
Today, our best athletes are struggling to run 10.30 seconds! We’re unlikely to see a renaissance in men’s sprinting and the Relays in Nigeria until we can produce 3 or 4 guys who can get close to or below the 10 second barrier. The ’92 Set were all beneficiaries of the American Collegiate system, but that route to development into World Class Sprinters has all but dried up for the majority of our athletes. Is it possible to train these guys at home, as Jamaica has so emphatically proved over the last 10 years? Only time will tell!
The World Relays is a new annual competition (the 1st edition being held in The Bahamas on May 24th/25th), where the world’s best Track & Field nations will compete over 10 different events – 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m & 4x1500m (both men and women). There is a total prize fund of $1.4 million up for grabs, and for the 4x100m & 4x400m, the 2014 World Relays will serve as the qualifiers for the 2015 World Championships (as will the 2015 World Relays for the 2016 Olympics). For viewers in Nigeria and Africa, the World Relays will show LIVE on SuperSports on May 24th/25th – more details soon!