The Lagos State Open Athletics Championships holding at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Thursday, June 24th, is set to feature Nigeria’s relay teams as they take another shot at qualifying for next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
This was disclosed at a press briefing held on Wednesday, June 23rd, at the Teslim Balogun Stadium and was attended by the Chairman of the Lagos State Athletics Association, Solomon Alao; Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Tonobok Okowa, and Long Jump National Record holder, Yussuf Ali who is the Meet Director, amongst others.
Speaking at the event, Alao who is the Southwest Representative on the AFN board said: “There are more than eight billion people on the planet and only a few of them can lay claim to being Olympians. It is the height of any athlete’s dream to qualify for the Olympics and that is why this opportunity is being given to the athletes by Lagos State. The athletes’ career lifespan is very short, and we will not want them to wait for the next four years to achieve this dream, that’s why we’re providing our athletes an enabling environment to fulfill their ambition. Nigeria deserves to be ably represented at the Olympics.”
Okowa revealed that the athletes are set to go all out to secure Olympic qualification and called on Lagosians to come out and support the athletes as they run for time tomorrow. He said, “I’m so glad because this is another opportunity for our relay teams to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Only our women’s 4x100m have been able to do so, but we are happy to have been presented this opportunity. We need to qualify.
“We had a pep talk with the athletes and they’re ready and in high spirits. We still have another window by the weekend but we’re hoping they qualify this time around. We also need the co-operation of the media not to talk down on the athletes but to encourage them, and we are calling on everyone to come around and cheer them on so that they don’t compete in an empty stadium.”
Meet Manager Ali confirmed that the event would take off at 1.30pm prompt so that the athletes are not delayed unnecessarily. He said, “Our athletes were about achieving the standard during the National Trials but couldn’t do so, probably because they had already put in a lot in their individual events. Our emphasis tomorrow is on the relays, and we will try as much as possible to run on time and do all we can to help the athletes achieve this aim. The speed of the baton is what we’re contesting for on Thursday.”
With the deadline for Olympic qualification pegged at June 29th, only the women’s 4x100m have been able to book their spot at the Games, with the men’s 4x100m, men’s and women’s 4x400m and mixed 4x400m yet to secure qualification for the quadrennial event.