Two of Nigeria’s most outstanding junior athletes in recent times, Ese Brume and Divine Oduduru will lead the country’s chase for medals at the forthcoming African Junior Championships scheduled to hold in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from March 4 to 8.
The Technical Committee of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) made the selection following the performance of the athletes at the recently held D.K Olukoya Youth and Junior Athletics Championships, which took place at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos last weekend, and served as National Trials for the continental championship.
The pair of Oduduru and Brume won their respective 100m races last weekend, with the former posting a time of 10.72s, while the latter clocked 12.29s in her event. Incidentally, both athletes will be making their second appearance at the African Juniors, after featuring in the 2013 edition where Oduduru claimed titles in the 200m and 4x100m relay, while Brume won the Long Jump and 4x100m, and then finished as runner-up in the Triple Jump.
Oduduru went on to win Silver at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon last year with a blistering time of 20.25s, (though wind-assisted), which incidentally turned out to be Nigeria’s only medal at the championships! His time also ranks as one of the top five fastest times run by a Nigerian (unofficially, since it is not valid for record purposes due to the strong tailwind).
Brume, on the other hand, stunned the Long Jump field at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, making a leap of 6.56m to win GOLD, and thereafter claimed her first senior continental title at the African Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.
The 34 athletes are expected to report to Sagamu, Ogun State today (February12) where they will resume closed camping ahead of the championships, which is less than a month away. Seven coaches have been hand-picked to put the athletes in top shape in the quest to consolidate on Team Nigeria’s performance from two years ago.
Nigeria won the last edition of the African Junior Championships staged in Mauritius with nine GOLD, seven Silver and three Bronze medals, two GOLD medals more than fierce rivals, South Africa, which won the highest number of medals overall. 2015 host, Ethiopia settled for third place with seven GOLD, seven Silver and eight Bronze medals.
LIST OF ATHLETES AND OFFICIALS SELECTED FOR THE AFRICAN JUNIORS
Abolaji Omotayo Oluwaseun
Odiong Edidiong Ofonime
Fasasi Adekunle Rilwan
Adeyemi Sikiru Adewale
400m Hurdles Girls
400m Hurdles Boys
Long Jump Girls
Triple Jump Girls
High Jump Boys
Shot Put Girls
Aniefuna Anulika Judith
Short, Long Sprints and Hurdles