With less than a hundred days to the Rio Olympic Games, Team Nigeria is in a race against time as revealed by the country’s performance at the 2016 Penn Relays, which took centre stage in Philadelphia at the weekend.
Though this year’s outing was a slight improvement from last year’s edition where Nigeria merely made up the numbers, the results didn’t quite surpass or even match the 2014 edition where the women’s 4x400m team at least finished in 2nd place.
This time around, Nigeria competed in six events namely the men and women’s 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m relays. However, the same team was presented for both the men’s 4x100m and 4x200m relays with both races having less than a 90-minute interval.
Team Nigeria’s first competition for the day was in the USA vs. the World Men 4x100m relay which was won by the Jamaican quartet of Jermaine Hamilton, Julian Foote, Rasheed Dwyer and Oshane Bailey in 38.70s.
USA Blue comprising of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearmon, Calesio Newman and Remontay McClain was 2nd in 39.02s as St Kitts and Nevis placed 3rd in 39.49s.
Team Nigeria’s squad comprising of Marquis Fraizer, Obinna Metu, Odele Tega, Nicholas Imhoaperamhe finished 4th with a time of 40.40s.
They were followed by Namibia and Haiti. USA Red made up of Mike Rogers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Isiah Young was disqualified because the Leg 3 to Leg 4 pass was done outside the exchange zone.
USA Red took the day in the women’s 4x100m as Tianna Bartoletta, Candyce McGrone, Kimberlyn Duncan and Carmelita Jeter dominated the field with their time of 42.61s.
Women’s 100m World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce anchored the Jamaican team (Gayon Evans, Elaine Thompson, Kerron Stewart) to 2nd place in 42.90s.
Trinidad and Tobago (Kelly Ann Baptiste, Michelle Lee Ahye, Reyare Thomas and Khalifa St. Fort) returned a time of 43.43s to finish 3rd. USA Blue placed 4th with 43.71s.
The Nigerian team followed in 5th in 44.55s. Gloria Asumnu, Olivia Ekpone, Dominique Duncan and Christy Udoh executed the race for Nigeria. Ghana’s quartet of Flings Owusu-Agyapong, Gemma Acheampong, Akua Obeng-Akrofi and Janet Amponsah finished 7th with a time of 45.65s.
Isiah Young, Justin Gatlin, Wallace Spearmon and Mike Rodgers were consoled with victory in the men’s 4x200m in 1:20.94. St. Kitts and Nevis was 2nd in 1:23.31, while the Nigerian quartet of Obinna Metu, Odele Tega, Nicholas Imhoaperamhe and Mark’quis Fraizer placed 3rd in 1:24.09.
Namibia and Haiti placed 4th and 5th respectively. This time around however, it was the Jamaican team that suffered a disqualification.
Only three teams contested the women’s 4x200m, with USA’s Candyce McGrone, Kaylin Whitney, Kimberlyn Duncan and Cambria Jones setting the pace with a time of 1:31.17. Jamaica was 2nd in 1:31.34, while Nigeria, represented by Christy Udoh, Olivia Ekpone, Chioma Agwunobi and Praise Idamadudu, finished 3rd in 1:34.01.
It was a 1-2 victory for USA in the keenly contested USA vs. the World Men 4×400 race, with the Blue team taking the win in 3:02.32 while the Red followed with 3:03.73. The Brazilian and Japanese teams followed in 3rd and 4th respectively in 3:03.75 and 3:05.64, relegating Nigeria to 5th position.
Chidi Okezie (46.6s), Miles Ukaoma (46.4s), Noah Akwu (46.54s) and Orukpe Erayokan (47.27s) clocked 3:06.81. Jamaica and Haiti followed in 3:08.06 and 3:13.53.
The female team comprising of Patience Okon (52.3s), Regina George (53.1s), Rita Ossai (53.02s) and Folashade Abugan (53.96s) enjoyed a somewhat better outing, finishing 3rd in 3:32.37.
The race was won by USA (Natasha Hastings, Dee Dee Trotter, Phyllis Francis and Sanya Richards-Ross) with 3:26.83, as Jamaica (Christine Day, Tiffany James, Verone Chambers and Stephanie-Ann McPherson) followed in 2nd position in 3:29.00.