Patience Okon George has become the latest quarter-miler to attain qualification for the 2017 World Championships after clocking a Season’s Best (SB) of 51.34s to win heat 2 of the women’s 400m at the National Championships taking in Abuja.
The reigning National champion has been chasing qualification since coming close earlier at the Grenada Invitational where she posted a time of 52.26s. Having now hit the mark, Okon George will be delighted that she has qualified even before the final on Friday.
Prior to the race today, only Yinka Ajayi and Margaret Bamgbose have met the mark for London, but the tally grew to four with Abike Egbeniyi joining Okon George as qualifiers, incidentally clocking exactly the qualifying time of 52.10s to finish 2nd in the same heat.
Bamgbose couldn’t make it to the National trials, making it a dilemma which three athletes the Federation would send to London as four people have now all qualified.
Ajayi who competed in heat 1 ran a time of 52.57s, beating Folashade Olotu who was 2nd in 53.88s and Praise Idamadudu 3rd in 54.22s. Meanwhile, MoC’s Glory Nyenke won heat 3 and qualifies for the final tomorrow running a time of 56.04s, with Linda Friday 2nd in 57.67s and another MoC athlete, Blessing Obarierhu 3rd in 58.43s.
In the men’s 400m, Samson Nathaniel who is the only Nigerian male quarter-miler to have qualified for London, on Thursday ran the fastest time of all four heats to go through to the next round.
Nathaniel won heat 4 in 46.64s with Bamidele Emmanuel 2nd in 47.18s and Gerald Odeka 3rd 49.23s. In that race, MoC’s Segun Akhigbe ran a new Personal Best (PB) of 49.49s to finish 5th.
Meanwhile in heat 1, Prosper Ogbonna clocked 46.71s to cross the line ahead of Noah Akwu who was 2nd in 47.48s and Afeez Abdulrahman 3rd in 47.62s. Adeyemi Sikiru won heat 2 in 47.56s to secure his passage to the final, while former champion Isah Salihu is another automatic qualifier having held off Atanda Akindele to win in 47.49s, and the latter was 2nd in 47.65s.
Action will continue on Day 2, and who knows the times could even get faster in the men’s semis.