Then competing at the Nationals, they churned out historic performances. In the women’s 100m, the trio of Grace Nwokocha (North Carolina A&T), Rosemary Chukwuma (Texas Tech University), and Favor Ofili (Louisiana State University) ran brilliant times of 10.97s, 10.99s, and 11.08s respectively in their semis to make the final
Their feat became the first time in history that three Nigerians competed in the final of the NCAA event, and the nation had multiple sub-11s runners in a season, having had Ofili clock 10.93s earlier in the year, who later went on to win 200m Silver medal clocking a massive 22.05s.
Meanwhile, in the men’s category, Favor Ashe (University of Tennessee) won 100m Silver in 10.08s and Udodi Onwuzurike (Stanford University) with 200m Bronze medal in 20.25s.
The field events had Ruth Usoro (Texas Tech University) clinch the Triple Jump Silver medal with 13.95m, and Isaac Odugbesan (University of Alabama) secured the Shot Put Bronze medal with a throw of 20.45m.
Others as Nnamdi Chineherem and Ezekiel Nathaniel of Baylor University, finished 4th in the Javelin Throw and 400mH, as well as Best Erhire (High Jump) and Esther Isa (Triple Jump) getting to the final, thereby earning First Team All-American Honors, while the rest that bowed out in the semis earned Second Team All-American Honors.
These college athletes are considered the second generation of Nigerian athletes set to take the world by storm, especially at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
African Championships, Mauritius
Team Nigeria went with a lean team of youth and experience to the 22nd African Championships in Mauritius, consisting of mainly home-based players.
This was due to the engagements of the college athletes in their various schools at the NCAA Championships, while some senior athletes competed in the European circuit in preparation for the World Championships.
Notwithstanding, the team gave good performances, as they finished third on the overall medals table with 5 Gold, 3 Silver, and 3 Bronze medals, behind Kenya and South Africa.
National Record (NR) holder Chukwuebuka Enekwechi topped the list of Gold medal winners, throwing a Championship Record (CR) of 21.08m to retain his title from 2018.
The medal was his third continental Gold, cementing his place as the most dominant athlete in the event since making his debut for Nigeria in 2017. The hat trick of titles won are at the 2018 African Championships in Asaba and 2019 African Games in Rabat.
On Day 2 of the Championship, Tobi Amusan dominated the 100mH event winning the country’s second Gold medal. The African Record (AR) holder clocked a wind-aided time of 12.57s (4.0m/s) after running 12.53s (2.5m/s) in the heats, both times surpassing the CR of 12.77s but for the excessive wind.
Consequently she became the third Nigerian after Maria Usifo (1984 and 1985) and Glory Alozie (1996, 1998, 2000), and the fifth African to successfully defend the events title.
Following Amusan’s brilliant performance, the quartet of Ifeanyi Ojeli, Ella Onojuvwevwo, Ayo Adeola, and Patience George, won the mixed 4x400m Silver medal behind Botswana, the same medal as Temitope Adeshina in the women’s High Jump.
Amusan made it a brace of Gold medals on Day 3, anchoring the women’s 4x100m to victory in 44.45s. The team comprising Tima Godbless, Praise Idamadudu, and Praise Oforku, ensured Nigeria won her 11th title in the history of the championship.
Chioma Onyekwere inspired a 1-3 finish in the women’s Discus final, throwing a distance of 58.19m to defend her title which is her fourth African Championships medal since 2016. Meanwhile, Obiageri Amechi making her debut appearance for the country, secured the Bronze medal with a throw of 54.15m.
Sade Olatoye, making her debut at the championship, dominated the women’s Hammer throw by winning Nigeria’s fourth Gold medal with a distance of 63.67m.
On the final day, history was made as Mike Edwards became the first Nigerian man to win a medal at the championship since 1996 when Anthony Idiata won Silver scaling the height of 2.16m.
Edwards also won the same color of the medal with a height of 2.15m, narrowly losing to Algeria’s Hichem Bouhanoune on countback, while South Africa’s Mpho Links settled for Bronze with the same mark of 2.15m.
The men and women’s 4x400m teams put up spirited performances to win Bronze medals, thereby taking the country’s tally of medals to four out of five relay events contested at the biennial championship.
The women’s 4x400m team was a perfect blend of youth and experience, having Deborah Oke, Queen Usunobun, and Ella Onojuvwewo banking on the experience of Patience George, pipped Botswana to the Bronze medal in a time of 3.36.24. While their male counterparts of Johnson Nnamani, Chidi Okezie, Adeyemi Sikiru, and Emmanuel Ojeli got round the baton in 3:07.05, finishing ahead of Kenya.