The Nigerian trio of Patience Okon-George, Chioma Onyekwere and Rosemary Chukwuma have all confirmed their participation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, swelling the country’s number of individual Track and Field athletes who have qualified for the Games to 15.
All three athletes got in via the World Rankings quota system introduced in 2019 by the World Athletics, earning enough points to secure berths in their respective events: women’s 400m, Discus and the 100m.
Nigeria will be competing in 10 Athletics events in Tokyo, and will be part of history in the Mixed 4x400m relay, the first time this event will be held at an Olympic Games, thereby becoming the first ever African country to participate in this event.
For Okon-George who was part of the epic moment last Sunday at the Paga/MoC Relays, helping Nigeria qualify for the Mixed 4x400m, she was oblivious of her ranking position in the 400m, and thought she would only be competing in just one event in Tokyo.
However at the close of the qualification window, Okon-George who was initially ranked at 48th place (the last spot) in the 400m on June 28th, moved three steps up to 45th and got an assured place in this event. Her cause was helped by the fact that she retained her Nigerian title, which she won for a fifth consecutive time in Lagos, clocking a Season’s Best of 52.24s.
Not only will Okon-George be competing in her second Olympics, she will be the only Nigerian athlete (man or woman) competing in the 400m event in Tokyo.
In the women’s Discus, Onyekwere’s place had never been under threat as she has always been in a strong position in the World Rankings. Onyekwere this season threw a Nigerian Record of 63.30m, and was just 20cm off the automatic qualification standard of 63.50m.
She has had some impressive performances this season, winning the Nigerian title for the first time in her career with a mark of 62.20m. Onyekwere has had marks over the 60m on more than five occasions this season, putting her in a good position going to Tokyo.
Chukwuma completes the trident of Nigerian athletes who qualified via the World Ranking tool, becoming the third Nigerian athlete who will be competing in the women’s 100m, earning a spot in 54th place out of the 56 available slots in this event.
Having competed at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires three years ago, Chukwuma joins the elite list of athletes who have been at both cadres, and will now complete the set of major international competitions representing Nigeria, which includes the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.
Chukwuma last month ran a 100m Personal Best of 11.18s at the Nigerian Olympics Trials and finished 2nd in the final behind Blessing Okagbare with whom she will be teaming up in the 4x100m, running a time of 11.07s (+2.7).
Nigeria will be going to Tokyo Olympics in a very good position to land individual medals, the best position they have been in since Atlanta 96 Games when the country won three individual medals.