Team Nigeria made history on Wednesday by clinching gold in the 4x400m mixed relay event at the ongoing World U-20 Athletics Championships in Nairobi, Kenya.
Team Nigeria’s quartet of Chidera Johnson Nnamani, Deborah Oke, Imaobong Nse-Uko, and Bamidele Ajayi set a Championship Record of 3:19.70 to win the Gold in the Mixed 4x400m relay, leaving the likes of Poland (3:19.80) and India (3:20.60) in their wake.
Poland, with a time of 3:19.80, finished second behind Nigeria while India settled for bronze after returning a time of 3:20.60.
Nigeria made a change to the quartet that ran the then championship record of 3:21.66 in the semi-final by bringing in Nse Uko – the fastest girl in the quarter-mile coming to the race.
Nse, 17, didn’t disappoint her fellow compatriots as she handed over the baton to the third-leg runner, Oke in the first position.
Meanwhile, she has also qualified for the individual 400m final scheduled for Saturday and stands as a firm favourite to restore Nigeria as World U-20 champions, since Bisi Afolabi succeeded Fatimah Yusuf as queen of the quarter-mile in 1994 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Minister for Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare, has lauded the team for their historic feat at the ongoing World Athletics U-20 Championship in Nairobi, Kenya.
He said: “I want to specially congratulate our U-20 team for making history in Nairobi. This gold is for all Nigerians and this should serve as the perfect start and the new board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria needs to correct the ills of the immediate past and return Nigeria among the major athletics nations in the world.”
He further stated that, “I remember how dominant we were in the early years of the championship when we dominated the sprint and quarter-mile events. I still vividly recall how Tina Iheagwan, Falilat Ogunkoya, and Mary Onyali dominated the 100m and 200m events at the inaugural edition of the championship in Anthens, Greece in 1986,”
“I am calling on the AFN to ensure the athletes discovered here are monitored and given the necessary encouragement to make them follow in the footsteps of their predecessors like Ogunkoya, Onyali, Ese Brume, Chioma Ajunwa, and Blessing Okagbare who grew to become individual Olympic medalists for Nigeria.”