With the deadline of the Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games qualification window set for 29th June, many Nigerian athletes are still looking to either make their first Olympic team or return to the form that took them to their first Olympic Games. Here is a list of five athletes who are looking to make a comeback for the prestigious event to be staged later this year.
5. AGNES OSAZUWA
For several years, Agnes Osazuwa remained one of the country’s best performing sprinters, especially over 100m, which has taken her to two Olympic Games, and will be looking to making a third appearance at the quadrennial event as she gets set to return to action after taking a couple of years off due to childbirth.
Osazuwa broke out onto the national scene in 2008 when she representated the country at the 2008 World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, finishing as a semifinalist, after placing 4th in the women’s 100m final at the Nigerian Athletics Championships with a Personal Best (PB) of 11.35s to show for it.
She went ahead to make her Olympic bow in Beijing that same year, competing in the 4x100m and helped the Nigerian team make the final where they would qualify in a time of 43.43s as the quickest losers and go ahead to win a Bronze medal in the final behind Belgium and Russia, with the Bronze being upgraded to Silver some years later.
She established her current PB of 11.33s in the women’s 100m final at the Nairobi African Championships in 2010 and won GOLD as a member of the 4x100m team. She also competed at the 2016 African Championships in Durban and by virtue of her 4th place finish in the women’s 100m final at the Nigerian Athletics Championships, made the Olympic team for the second time.
She teamed up with Blessing Okagbare, Gloria Asumnu and Jennifer Madu to make the women’s 4x100m final, anchoring the team in 42.55s, one of the fastest times ever run by a Nigerian quartet and in the final, the team placed 7th.
Her last competition before childbirth was the 2018 Commonwealth Games Trials, and she will be hoping to make a comeback, starting with the 3rd MoC Grand Prix holding in April.
4. TAMEKA JAMESON
The last time Tameka Jameson competed outdoors, it was in 2016, the year of the last Olympics. She represented Nigeria that year in the women’s 400m Hurdles at the African Athletics Championships in Durban where she finished 2nd in her heat and went ahead to win the Bronze medal in the final with a time of 57.17s, standing on the podium with Wenda Nel who won in 54.86s and Maureen Jelegat in 56.12s.
Prior to that, Jameson had competed as a member of the women’s 4x400m team at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland, finishing just outside the medals with a time of 3:34.03.
She got to compete for the first time in almost four years, back in 2020 where she raced to an indoor Personal Best (PB) of 53.60s over 400m. Jameson participated in at least five indoor meetings last year, and will be hoping to make her first Olympics appearance.
With her 400m Hurdles Personal Best (PB) set at 55.73s from 2010, when she would later go on to finish 3rd in the event at the NCAA Championships, the Olympics standard of 55.40s could very well be within her reach.
3. JENNIFER MADU
Jennifer Madu had an explosive season in 2015, the highlight of which was clocking a 100m PB of 11.16s at the NCAA Championships in Eugene. She made the final of the event the following year and competed at her first Nigerian Athletics Championships which secured her a spot to run at the Olympic Games.
There she finished 4th in her heat with a time of 11.61s and teamed up with Blessing Okagbare, Gloria Asumnu and Agnes Osazuwa in a very dramatic race to finish 2nd and therefore, make the final of the women’s 4x100m race in Rio, running a time of 42.55s, one of the fastest times ever run by a Nigerian quartet. Still running with the same four, they later went to place 7th in the final won by the United States.
In 2017, Madu ran a Season’s Best (SB) of 11.31s at the Texas Relays and helped the Nigerian 4x200m women make the final of the event at the World Relays in Bahamas. She also made the team to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, finished as a semifinalist and then competed at some major meets in Europe in 2019.
With no races at all in 2020, she will be hoping to bounce back into the form that saw her make the Nigerian team to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
2. YINKA AJAYI
Even though Yinka Ajayi shaved over four seconds off her PB between 2015 and 2016, and was infact a member of the Nigerian women’s 4x400m team that took Silver at the 2016 African Championships in Durban, South Africa, she fully rose to prominence on the national scene in 2017, running an impressive PB of 51.57s to finish 2nd at the Nigerian Athletics Championships in Abuja.
That time qualified her for a first World Championships, but she would improve on it just four days after with a 51.30s clocking to win the 400m at the Ozoro Relays in Warri. She went on to make her World Championship debut at the London Olympic stadium, placing 3rd in her heat and finishing the individual event as a semifinalist.
She ran the quickest leg of the Nigerian 4x400m quartet that made the final, finishing 2nd behind Jamaica in 3:25.40 and eventually got 5th in the final with 3:26.72.
After doing another PB early into the season in 2018 with 51.22s, Ajayi donned the nation’s colours at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia where she won her heat, placed 2nd in the semifinals and by that, made the final. She then helped the Nigerian 4x400m quartet to a beautiful 2nd place finish in the final as they finished in a time of 3:25.29, again behind Jamaica.
With little competition in 2019, when she moved on to competing on the collegiate circuit for the Drake Bulldogs and she won all of her six individual indoor races before the 2020 season was cut short. Ajayi has already resumed competing this year and will be looking to making her first Olympic Games and return to the shape that took her to a PB of 51.22s in 2018, which surpasses the Tokyo Olympic Games standard of 51.35s.
1. OLU OLAMIGOKE
Finishing off his collegiate career in 2012, Olu Olamigoke is undoubtedly one of the finest Triple Jumpers Nigeria has had in recent years and is ranked 5th on the all-time Nigerian list in his event. He competed at his first Nigerian Athletics Championships in Calabar 2013 where he placed 2nd in the final with a 16.16m leap and went on to an impressive PB of 16.73m in the 2014, maintaining his position at the National Championships the year before.
This earned him a place to compete at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games where he made the final and just missed out on a medal, finishing 4th with a 16.56m jump. He was also at the African Championships in Marrakesh where he placed 6th.
Tosin Oke (C), Olu Olamigoke (L) and Kola Adedoyin (R) were the Top 3 finishers at the 2015 National Trials.In 2015, arguably his best season, he competed at the Warri Relays and the Nigerian Athletics Championships, finishing 2nd in both outings behind predecessor Tosin Oke who had won all of their clashes both on the Nigerian and international scene. Again selected to compete at the African Games in Congo, Olamigoke bounded out to a huge PB of 16.98m, only again topped by Oke’s 17.00m jump for GOLD.
He won his first National title in 2016, going out to 16.70m for the win in Sapele and made his Olympic debut, competing in the heats of his event later that season in Rio. Since then, he recorded a best of 16.55m in 2017 then went off the radar for some time due to injuries. He returned to action in 2019 where he competed in two meetings.
Olamigoke has long been regarded as Oke’s successor and is now training to qualify for and compete at a second Olympics and has since adopted the mantra ‘NoDonutsTilTokyo’. He would need to surpass his current PB to hit the entry standard of 17.14m.