It was a special night in the Bahamas and a hard fought race that saw Nigeria’s 4x400m Women take the Bronze Medal in a stunning time of 3:23.41, the fastest any Nigerian Quartet has run since the Falilat Ogunkoya-led team of the Sydney 2000 Olympics! Team USA more or less led from start to finish (3:21.73), but the Nigerian Quartet of Folasade Abugan, Regina George, Omolara Omotosho and Patience Okon George, fought the Jamaicans (3:23.26) tooth and nail for the 2nd place, right till the very end!
“Look at the turbo being applied by Regina George round the bend – another storming leg for Nigeria!” the commentator excitedly blasts on the 2nd leg – we’re getting used to hearing that about this @DivaOnTheTrack, she did similar on the anchor legs at the 2013 World Championships and the 2014 Penn Relays in April. Her split on the 2nd leg was a mind boggling 49.4 seconds (the fastest of any athlete in the whole race)! Abugan led the team off with 52.30s, while Omotosho and P. George ran 50.9s & 50.81s splits respectively to bring the Bronze home for Team Nigeria! Bukola Abogunloko is the fifth member of this Relay team, who also picked up a Bronze medal after running the third leg in the heats!
The awesomeness of this performance from the whole TEAM cannot be overstated – it was the first RELAY medal for Team Nigeria since the Beijing 2008 Olympics, and it was the 3rd fastest Season for Nigeria in our history of running the women’s 4×4. Only the Silver Medal winning team of Atlanta ’96 (African Record Holders at 3:21.04) and the Sydney 2000 team (3:22.99) have ever run faster.
Less than 2 hours later, Regina George and Patience Okon George (no relation) returned to the track, joining Dominique Duncan and Francesca Okwara for Nigeria’s first ever 4×200 metre run! Although they only finished in 7th, they set a new National Record of 1:33.71 by virtue of being the first ever quartet to contest the event for Nigeria!
2014 was indeed the year for the 4x400m team as they went on to win Silver behind Jamaica at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later that year, though with a slower time of 3:24.71, and then upgraded to GOLD at the African Championships less than a month later in Morocco, with Abugan running the anchor legs in both races! Two members of the team, Abugan and Okon-George eventually won GOLD and Bronze for Nigeria in the women’s 400m race in Morocco.
They emerged Nigeria’s most consistent Relay team last season, a feat that earned them a place in Making of Champions’ Top 12 Athletics Performers in 2014, where they occupied the third spot, just behind Blessing Okagbare and Ese Brume, who also posted mind blowing performances at the Commonwealth Games and African Championships!
It remains to be seen if they can consolidate on this feat ahead of the 2015 World Relays, which takes off today in the Bahamas, although the absence of African champion, Abugan will be strongly felt, while Okon-George has been drafted into the women’s 4x200m team. Partnering with Regina George are Rita Ossai, Florence Uwakwe, Ibukun Mayungbe and Margaret Bamgbose who will be aiming for another medal in the event.