The men’s 400m final is one of the most anticipated events at the ongoing National Sports Festival (NSF) in Edo State, and the stage is already set for a scintillating race after most of the major actors sailed through the semis on Saturday at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin.
Emmanuel Ojeli and Chidi Okezie had both competed in the same heat on Friday, with the Lagos State athlete crossing the line in 47.30s as his Delta State counterpart followed in 47.37s. The pair was placed in the same race in the semis once again and Ojeli won the race with a Season’s Best (SB) of 45.99s – the fastest time across the three semis, as Okezie was 2nd in 46.32s. Team Bayelsa’s Eriooluwa Olanrewaju finished 3rd with 48.09s.
Ojeli, who is the reigning National Champion in the event, won Bronze at the 2018 edition of the NSF, and will be looking to upgrade to GOLD this time around while Okezie, who narrowly missed out on the final at the time, will be seeking a podium finish at this edition.
That will be the same target for Team Delta’s Samson Nathaniel who had the overall fastest time of 47.23s in the heats on Friday, and lowered his time to in the semis to 46.72s to finish ahead of Team Oyo’s Sikiru Adeyemi who clocked 46.82s in 2nd place, while Kaduna’s Surajo Habib settled for 3rd in 48.64s. Adeyemi is the fastest Nigerian quartermiler in 2021 with his time of 45.95s set in Akure last month, and he will be looking forward to running faster in the final.
The third semifinal race was won by Enugu’s Chidera Nnamani in 47.36s as Ogbuagu Afam followed in 47.85s, while Olanipekun Ajayi of Ekiti State placed 3rd after returning a time of 48.32s.
NSF Defending Champion Orukpe Eraiyokan and Afeez Abdulrahman will be missing in this keenly contested final after the pair pulled out of the semis, having copped injuries in the heats.