Okowa targets better outing at Paris Olympics


By: Abiodun Adewale

President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Tonobok Okowa, aims for a better outing for Nigerian athletes at this year’s Olympic Games in Paris, as more athletes keep hitting the qualification marks before the window closes July 1, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

At the 2020 edition in Tokyo, Nigeria won just one medal in athletics, a bronze, by Ese Brume in the women’s long jump event, despite parading 14 athletes (seven males and seven females) after 10 others were prevented from competing for missing out on pre-competition doping tests.

With over three months until the start of the Games, Okowa says he expects more athletes to qualify through different continental championships and the national trials.
“My interest is for us to do way better than Tokyo, and the competitions we have ahead will serve as a litmus test for us,” Okowa told our correspondent.

“We are preparing to go to the world relays, where we will try as much as possible to qualify for all of them.

“We are working on all the relays, and if there is anyone else, we have other competitions in the window, including the Senior Africa Athletics Championship in Cameroon, the Region II in Ghana and the National Trials. These are opportunities those who haven’t qualified in the individual and relays.”

While reflecting on the performances of some overseas-based athletes in the outdoor season, Okowa expressed confidence that more athletes would hit the Olympic qualification marks.

“This is the starting point; the outdoor season has just started, and it is three months or a little more to the Olympics. So, athletes can do a build-up and start all over again, and they will come out smoking. You will see a lot more that will still qualify,” he noted.

Nigerian athletes who have already qualified for the Games are Tobi Amusan (100m hurdles), Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (shot put), Ese Brume (long jump), Ruth Usoro (long jump), Favour Ashe (100m), Udodi Onwuzurike (200m), Emmanuel Bamidele (400m), Edose Ibadin (800m), Ezekiel Nathaniel (400m hurdles) and Favour Ofili (200m).

The Paris Olympic Games are the 33rd edition of the Games and will be held from July 26 to August 11.