They bear Nigerian names, but Nigeria could only wish that some of these athletes competing for Great Britain would have been doing so in the Green kits.
Last weekend at the British championships, a flurry of athletes who are of Nigerian descent dominated the scenes, winning most of their events and qualifying to represent Great Britain at the World Championship in Beijing.
In a cursory look at the 100m men’s result, one could get confused thinking it was the Nigerian Championships. Alas the top three finishes are athletes who have their histories traced back to Nigeria. Chijindu Ujah won in 10.10s beating James Dasaolu to 2nd in 10.24s and Ojie Edoborun 3rd in 10.27s . Making of Champions published a story last year, highlighting Nigerian athletes competing well everywhere…. except Nigeria, and all three athletes featured in that story.
Ujah and Dasaolu have both broken 10 seconds, with Dasaolu becoming the 2nd fastest Brit ever in 2013, and Ujah the third fastest ever last year. Edoburun won a World Youth Silver in 2013, at the age of 17 running 10.35s, a time which only a few seniors in Nigeria can run currently. At these British Trials, John Otugade and Deji Tobias finished 6th and 7th in 10.42s and 10.49s respectively, in a race that had five athletes who could have competed for Nigeria, two from Ghana, leaving no one in doubt what West Africa is capable of churning out.
The women’s 100m hurdles had siblings of Nigerian descent , Tiffany Porter and Cindy Ofili finishing as the top two. Porter won the race in a time of 12.83s while her younger sister who recently pledged her allegiance to Great Britain, finished 2nd with a time of 12.96s. While Nigeria was busy recruiting foreign athletes of questionable origin, it is unfortunate that similar efforts were not put into luring Ofili who could have represented the country at the next Olympics. Great Britain has snapped her up and she will now represent them at the World Championship in August and surely in Rio next year.
Three out of the top four finishers in the women’s 400m are athletes who can trace their ancestry to the Eastern part of Nigeria. Anyika Onuora dethroned Christine Ohuruogu to win the 400m title, causing an upset with her 51.87s victory over Ohuruogu’s 52.04s 2nd place finish. In that same race, another athlete of Nigerian origin, Mary Iheke finished 4th after running a time of 52.81s.
The men’s 100m and the women’s 100m hurdles weren’t the only events where athletes of Nigerian origin dominated. Winner of the women’s 200m, Margaret Adeoye who won the race in a time of 23.51s, is also a Nigerian.
If there is anything to take away from the British trials, it has shown that Nigeria has a wealthy pool to draw athletes from, and could rub shoulders with the likes of Jamaica and the United States America. IF the right development plans are put in place. It may a take three or four years to materialize, but there is no denying the fact that Nigeria is blessed with the highest sprinting potential in the world. Something just needs to be done to realize that potential.