(Photo Credit: AthleticsAfrica)

There is no stopping Nigeria’s Record Holder in the women’s High Jump, Doreen Amata this year! The All-Africa Games two-time champion was in blistering form at the IAAF World Challenge Meeting in Senegal over the weekend where she made her best jump in four years, winning the event with a distance of 1.94m.

Incidentally, her new mark is the qualifying mark for the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Amata’s eye-catching performance has moved her up from No.16 on the IAAF Top List to No.3! It goes without saying that the athlete is on course to break her own National Record (NR) of 1.95m, which was set in 2008 and equaled at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.

The jumper already disclosed to Making of Champions her target to set a new NR, jump above 2m and secure her third consecutive All-Africa Games title in 2015. She looks set to jump a new NR, going by her consistence thus far.

She opened her 2015 season at a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia last month where she finished 3rd with 1.85m. She went on to win her event at the highly competitive Drake Relays a few weeks later with a Season’s Best (SB) of 1.90m. With her leap of 1.94m in Dakar, it is safe to assume that Amata will continue the progression,and it will be a massive feat indeed if she goes on to set a new PB.

The forthcoming World Championships in August will be Amata’s third outing at the biennial competition. She competed in Berlin in 2009 where she was unable to make it to the final, with a jump of 1.85m. She improved in Daegu two years later, qualifying for the final in 1.95m, before finishing joint 8th with Uzbekistan’s Svetlana Radzivil with a distance of 1.93m in the final.

She didn’t qualify for the Moscow Championships in 2013 and will be aiming to become the first Nigerian woman to get a medal of any colour in her event at the World Championships. Amata must be commended for getting her jumping career back on track single-handedly, without any support from the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) or National Sports Commission (NSC), lending credence to the fact that when there is a will, there will surely be a way!

Four other Nigerians were in action in Dakar, including National 100m Champion, Mark Jelks who has an SB of 10.36s, which he returned in Lawrence in the US last month. Jelks competed in both the 100m and 200m, finishing 5th in the 100m with a wind-aided time of 10.20s (+5.1 m/s) behind winner, Ramon Gittens of Barbados (10.08s), Roscoe Engel(10.12s), Henrichio Bruintjies (10.16s) and Zambia’s Siame Sydney (10.18s).

Jelks, the second fastest man in Africa in 2014, placed 3rd in the 200m in 20.88s, also wind-aided (+3.7 m/s). Winner of the 100m at the 2nd AFN All Comers Meet in Lagos and emerging talent, Nkem Ezealah put up an impressive show at her first international outing as a senior, placing 3rd in 11.54s (+2.1 m/s).

The race was won by Cote d-Ivoire’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou who finished 3rd and 2nd respectively in 100m/200m at the last African Championships. The Ivoirian was denied a Personal Best (PB) and Meeting Record (MR) due to the excessive wind. She clocked 11.08s, as against her lifetime best of 11.20s which she equalled in Montgeron just a week ago.

African Championships Bronze medallist, Patience Okon George won the women’s 400m with an SB of 52.12s, while hurdler, Amaka Ogoegbunam, who took Silver in Marrakech last year, finished 4th in the same race in 54.06s. The competition is Ogoegbunam’s first in 2015, having last competed at the IAAF Continental Cup in September last year.

Meanwhile national athlete, Miles Ukaoma placed 3rd in 400m hurdles with 49.39s at the Ponce IAAF World Challenge Grand Prix in Puerto Rico.

(Photo Credit: AthleticsAfrica)
(Photo Credit: AthleticsAfrica)

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. She has a bias for athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the National Sports Festival and the African Athletics Championships, and has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). Yemi holds a BA in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University .

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