From Thursday to Friday, athletes would converge in Warri for the National Championships which will be the final audition for a place in the Nigerian team going to the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.
This is more than securing a place in the Nigerian team, as a lot will be at stake. There is a matter of pride, with some of the athletes eager to prove a point about being the best in their events. To some, it can’t come any sooner, while many will be eager to reclaim the title they lost last year, just to make a statement.
So with the National Championships having rekindled the rivalry for bragging rights, we take a look at athletes who may have a point to prove to critics who have written them off.
Former Nigerian 400m champion, this looks like an ample time for her to regain the title she lost to Folashade Abugan who incidentally will not be competing this time around.
Regina George held sway in 2012 and 2013, but she was surprisingly beaten by Abugan who thwarted her mission of making it three successive victories. This will be paramount on her mind when she arrives for the trials.
She has already made the qualification mark for the World Championship, but she will be eager to erase any doubts about her capability in the one-lap race, having finished 4th last year.
Patience Okon George:
This is another quarter-miler who will be out to make a statement. In fact she is very emphatic that she will win, not in any way detered by the challenge of Regina George as she told us last week: “I strongly believe that I will win my race at the National Trials, I just took it easy in the race (Warri Relays) as there was nobody to run against.”
Okon-George this year ran the fastest time by a Nigerian female 400m runner since Falilat Ogunkoya, winning her race in Switzerland with a time of 50.76s.
Many will be out to see if she can replicate it at the trials and show that it was not by fluke.
Metu once carried the hopes of Nigeria’s sprinting expectations in the men’s category, but of late he has struggled to live up to that hype.
The former national champion once had the opportunity of training with the coach of six-time of Olympic champion, Usain Bolt, but it hasn’t really turned out the way Metu would have wished for.
This year, it has been all about Ogho-Oghene Egwero, who is the current National Lead with his 10.15s mark, however Metu would be looking at joining him to qualify for the World Champs, and the trials is the only avenue to showcase that he isn’t finished yet.
For long, Erayokan has been knocking on the door to go below 46s, but so far it hasn’t opened yet. The National Sports Festival Champion vowed to break that barrier before the World Championships, so could he be lining up a spectacular display at the trials?
These athletes no doubt will light up the Warri Township stadium when they step out to qualify, but paramount on their mind would be to leave there having made a good impression.