The women’s 400m final at the ongoing National Sports Festival (NSF) in Edo State is set to be a mouth-watering encounter which will be a battle between youth and experience, even as four-time National Women’s 400m Champion Patience Okon-George of Cross Rivers faces her younger counterpart and defending champion in the event, Akwa Ibom State’s Imaobong Nse Uko, even with the Olympic qualifying standard at stake.
Despite being out of action for over a year with her last competition being the Test the Track event in Benin last year, Okon-George showed no signs of rustiness at all as she won her races in the heats and semis, clocking Season’s Bests (SB) of 53.03s and 52.79s respectively. In the semifinals, Blessing Ovwighoadjebere of Bayelsa (54.30s) and Josephine Oloye of Ondo (54.66s) finished behind the multiple continental medallist.
Uko also dominated her heats and semis, clocking times of 53.65s and 53.29s respectively, with Team Lagos’ Blessing Oladoye (54.13s) and Opeyemi Oke of Ondo State (54.33s) following in 2nd and 3rd positions, while Glory Patrick finished 5th in 54.90s in the same semifinal race. Patrick, who set a Personal Best (PB) of 53.61s in Akure last month, will be hoping for a faster time in the final.
Uko has been chasing the Olympic qualifying mark of 51.35s, having already set a PB of 52.07s which brought her closer to the 51s mark while racing in Akure. Okon-George is not only chasing the Olympic standard, but also a long elusive NSF title which she’s yet to get in her kitty. When asked which was the priority for her, Okon-George replied “Both”. And so, she will be going all out in the final.
Bayelsa’s Ovwighoadjebere cannot be counted out of the mix as well as she’s been very consistent in recent years, and will be aiming to finish on the podium.