Athletes and officials of Team Nigeria were left to lament what they described as ‘severe effect’ of a series of thunder storm, which led to the cancellation of several events, including the men and women 4×400 metres relays in their tour of the United States on Tuesday.
Though Team Nigeria’s tour of the U.S. yielded some positive results, as the country’s men and women 4x100m teams finished tops in their respective races ahead of Canada and Trinidad and Tobago in Texas, the results were not enough to secure the needed qualification tickets to the Olympics.
According to the Guardian, President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Olamide George described as ‘unfortunate’ the failure by Team Nigeria to pick the relay tickets in Texas.
“Our chances of picking the relay tickets was very bright until the weather suddenly changed,” he said. “It started with a very strong wind, which affected both our men and women’s 4x100m team.”
The quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Grace Nwokocha, Rosemary Chukwuma and Oluwatobiloba Amusan defeated Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and some other American clubs in a time of 43.06 seconds, which puts the country at number 11 in the world and number one among the countries battling for the remaining spot to Tokyo.
According to the AFN boss, the weather in Texas further deteriorated before the men’s 4x100m relay, which the quartet of Enoch Adegoke, Chidi Okezie, Jerry Jakpa and Godson Brume won.
He said: “The weather became so terrible following series of lightening and thunder strikes, which forced the organisers to cancel the meet. Our men and women 4x400m relay teams could not have the chance to run due to the thunder strikes. Before the event was eventually cancelled, our long jumper, Ese Brume, was leading her event with 6.61m, which was her first attempt.”
Team Nigeria started the tour of U.S three weeks ago with the PVAMU Invitational in Texas, where the mixed relay team competed with some American clubs. Their second event in Dallas on May 18 was more of individual races for the athletes.
It was not clear yesterday if Team Nigeria will be able to attend the next event in Florida, which has been moved from its original date of May 29 to June 6.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has invited some African countries including Botswana, Cameroun, Zambia, Comoros and Kenya for relay events during the national trials scheduled for Yaba College of Technology, Lagos on June 17.
George said the country’s relay teams hope to use the event to qualify for the Olympics even before the African Athletics Championships also billed to hold between June 23 and 27, 2021 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.