Olympic gold medallist Tafida Gadzama, who represented Australia at the Sydney 2000 Games, has challenged Nigerian student athletes who placed on the podium and those who set personal records at the recent NCAA outdoor championships to carry their form to Budapest, Hungary this August for the World Athletics Championships.
Udodi Onwuzurike ran new lifetime bests in the 100m (9.92) and 200m (19.76) enroute to making the final of the former and clinched a historic gold in the latter, while Godson Oghenebrume ran 9.90 in the 100m event to finish second in the final.
Favour Ashe improved his personal best in the 100m to 9.96, while Nathaniel Ezekiel ran inside 49 seconds consistently at the Championships to finish third in the 400m hurdles.
Rosemary Chukwuma and Favour Ofili also made it to the final of the 100m and 200m respectively. Gadzama believes these are signs that the rising profile since 2021 was not by happenstance.
“I am delighted with the steady progress we have been making since 2021 when Tobi Amusan won the Diamond League trophy. We have since produced a world outdoor champion and record holder,” he said.
“For the first in our history, we have three Nigerian sprinters break 10 seconds in the event the same year and chances are, we could have one or two more do that before the end of the outdoor season.”
Gadzama who is also the first Vice President of the AFN insists that he is speaking up in his personal capacity and as an Olympic gold medal winner, and believes Nigerian athletes can shake the stables in Budapest in August.
“Oghenebrume has shown the kind of spirit I want the others to imbibe. The 20 year old student athlete at Louisiana State University has warned the world he is ready to ruffle feathers at World Athletics’ flagship event,” Gadzama said.
“I am confident we can get to the final of the men’s 100m for the first time since 2007 when my friend, Olusoji Fasuba, came fourth and made the podium for the first time ever.”
Gadzama, a former African U20 400m champion, said that he is also excited Tobi Amusan is on course in her preparations to successfully defend the World 100m hurdles title she won last year and see a great development in the women’s long jump event.
“I see Ese Brume and Ruth Usoro jumping farther than ever to enable two Nigerians making the podium in an individual event for the first time at the championships,” he said.
“Ese has won silver and bronze in the event and who says she or Ruth cannot aspire to gold this time.”