Nigeria’s women’s 4x400m quartet consisting of Regina George, Funke Oladoye, Tosin Adeloye and Patience Okon George ensure that Nigeria will participate in the final day of the World Championship when the 4x400m final gets underway in the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing.
The team was anchored to victory in Heat 1 by National Champion, Okon George, clocking a Season’s Best (SB) of 3:23.27 to finish ahead of the Jamaican team (3:23.62) and European powerhouse, Russia (3:23.75), who are the defending champions in the event. Regina gave the team an impressive lead, running an impressive split of 50.18s, as Oladoye ran 52.68s; Adeloye clocked a split of 50.89s, while Okon George coasted home with a split of 50.52s.
Their time was the second fastest in the heats overall, and ranks as one of the fastest times ever clocked by the team. The 4x400m women’s team has been the country’s most consistent relay team in recent years, winning Bronze at the 2014 IAAF World Relays, before scooping Silver at the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and then GOLD at the 2014 African Championships in Marrakech.
The team has also gotten to the final of the past three editions of the World Championships, and is confident about their chances of making it to the podium in Beijing.
Moscow 2013 Silver medallists, USA dominated Heat 2 after having the quartet of Phyllis Francis, Jessica Beard, Sanya Richards-Ross and Francena McCorory in action. They were anchored by pre-championships World Leader, McCorory, who returned a time of 3:23.05 as Great Britain followed in 3:23.90: the French team placed 3rd with an SB of 3:24.86. Completing the list of finalists are Canada (3:26.14) and Ukraine (3:26.01).
The Nigerian 4x100m relay team comprising of Gloria Asumnu, Stephanie Kalu, Deborah Odeyemi and Cecilia Francis placed 8th in Heat 1, finishing with a time of 43.89s. Commonwealth double champion, Blessing Okagbare didn’t participate in the event. It was definitely not a good performance for a team that finished 6th in Berlin and Daegu respectively.
As expected, members of the squad were disappointed with the result, and according to Asumnu, there was no Plan B in place for the team to actually succeed.
Considering that the relays used to be one of Nigeria’s flagship events, it is unnerving to see the country lose relevance in the 4x100m relays. The team finished at the bottom of the overall standings, while the country didn’t even field the men’s 4x100m team as they were unable to meet the qualifying standards for the championships.