Akintola, Ofili relish Olympics relay tickets


By: Abiodun Adewale

Members of the country’s men’s and women’s 4x100m relays quartets were electrified by the prospect of competing at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after punching their respective tickets at the World Relays in the Bahamas during the weekend, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Both teams initially missed out on qualification in the first round of the heats on Saturday but returned better in the repechage events on Sunday to book their places in Paris.

Although Nigeria was beaten to first place in the men’s 4x100m by rivals Ghana, a second-place finish was enough to mark their return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008.

“I was like what’s going on? When I saw like three persons on the outside at the same time I just felt like it wasn’t about winning but the ticket. So, I did my best and passed the baton round and he was able to take it home. We are not thinking about Ghana’s rivalry. This time, it’s not a kitchen fight, it’s against the world,” Alaba Akintola, who ran the curve, said via Making of Champions.

“I won’t say I was under pressure but at the end of the day, we thank God. We came out here, they trusted me and that’s the biggest thing for us. Our main goal was to qualify and not to see who’s better between us,” anchor leg, Karlingnton Anunagba, added.

The Nigerian women’s 4x100m quartet of Justina Eyakpobeyan, Favour Ofili, Olayinka Olajide and Tima Godbless also stormed to victory in their heat in a time of 42.71s to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Ofili’s leg on the back straight proved to be very instrumental as she made up a lot of ground with the fastest leg across the board at an unofficial split of 10.04s. She handed over to Olayinka, who sent Godbless firing down on anchor, fending off the challenge posed by the Swiss team, who finished second in 42.75s, while China placed third in 43.13s.

“I feel great that I am here and running with these amazing ladies. I’m also grateful to my coach who came here for Tima and me and saw us qualify our country for the Olympics,” Ofili said.

Nigeria’s contingent to the World Relays arrived in the country on Tuesday having picked four out of five relay tickets for the Olympic Games.