The much anticipated Nigerian Athletics Championships taking place in Benin, has now been postponed by some days to give room for athletes who are arriving this weekend, to have adequate rest in order to be at their very best for the trials.
Technical Director of the AFN, Samuel Onikeku revealed that some of the athletes are expected this weekend in Benin, and also Nigeria wants their athletes to be at their optimal best to prosecute qualifications in the relays, which all culminated in the postponement of the championships by a few a days.
Here is the official statement from the AFN detailing why the National Championships has been pushed back by three days:
“Commonwealth Games, World Championships Trials Now To Hold June 24-26, 2022. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, has shifted by three days the start of the 2022 Nigeria Athletics Championships which will serve as selection trials for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
The AFN, in a press statement signed by its Technical Director, Samuel Onikeku, says the change is necessitated by the need to accommodate all athletes who have signified interest in the championships and have met the entry standard for the event.
‘The purpose of the championships this year is to select the best legs for the World Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games and as a responsive federation, we have to accommodate athletes who can only arrive this weekend due to flight connections to have a few days of rest,’ said the technical director.
The former track star says the move was also necessitated by the need to get all our athletes ready, especially the sprinters and the quarter-milers who will be seeking to qualify the relay teams for the World Athletics Championships.
‘As at today (Friday June 17, 2022), only the women’s 4x100m and the mixed relay teams have qualified for Oregon. The men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams are yet to qualify as well as the women’s 4x400m relay team,’ added Onikeku.
The AFN chief executive officer believes the women’s 4x100m and the mixed relay teams will also need to improve on their current ranking now to guarantee qualification.
‘Nigeria is ranked 16th in both events which means we are occupying the last qualification spot. This does not give us the guarantee we will still be in Oregon in those relay events.’
With the current status of our athletes worldwide, Onikeku is confident Nigeria will present teams in all five relays in Oregon and come back with at least two medals.
‘This informed our decision to change the dates for the Nigeria Championships. We have to get our best athletes ready to get the relay tickets, ” Onikeku said.
The Nigerian Championships was meant to have commenced from June 21-23, but will now take place from 24-26, just before the deadline for qualification window (June 29th).