Rio Olympics: Nigerian athletes report card. 

In a school setting, after an exam, results are given and here’s the result of Nigerian Track and field athletes from The 2016 Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Athletics events commenced on the 12th of August and Nigerian athletes joined their counterparts from other nations to justle for medals. Whether good or bad, results most be given!

African Championships Record Holder in the heptathlon, Uhunoma Osazuwa flagged off Team Nigeria’s participation in Track and Field. At the end of 4 events on Day 1, she finished 24th with 3609 points. Nwanneka Okwelogu finished 14th in the qualifying stage of the Women’s Shot Put event and placed 29th overall.

2012 National Festival Champ, Orukpe Erayokan was drawn in heat 7 of the men’s 400m heat. The 44.95s runner couldn’t live up to expectations as he finished at a distant 7th with 47.42s and did not progress to the semis.

The 100m Round 1 took center stage to bring Day 1 to a close and Team Nigeria were represented by 3 athletes.

7-time National Champion, Blessing Okagbare jogged her heat to finish second in 11.16s to qualify for the semis while Jennifer Madu and Gloria Asunmu finished 5th and 6th respectively with a time of 11.61s and 11.59s and they sadly didn’t qualify for the semifinal

On Day 2, Patience Okon-George finished second in Heat 1 of the Women’s 400m in a time of 51.83s. Margaret Bamgbose finished third in Heat 3 with a time 51.43s to qualify for the semis a fastest loser while Omolara Omotosho finished fifth in 53.22s in Heat 7 and did not qualify to the next round.

Osazuwa Uhunoma could not recover from Day 1 as she finished 29th overall with 4916 points which is a far cry from her National Record mark of 6153 points .

Three Nigerians were initially listed to take part in the men’s 100m Round 1 but due to some circumstances, one of the athlete was not registered. 2x National Champion, Seye Ogunlewe finished 4th in his heat in a time of 10.24s while former compatriot now representing Qatar, Femi Ogunode finished 5th in 10.28s.

Egwero Ogho-Oghene finished 6th in his heat with a time of 10.37s and could not progress through this stage.

Okagbare ended Nigeria’s pursuit on Day 2 on a sad note as the sprinter finished third in the 100m Semifinal with a time of 11.09s and that wasn’t good enough to take her into the finals even as a fastest loser.

Okon-George and Bamgbose competed on Day 3 in the Women’s 400m semifinals. Okon-George finished 8th in 52.52s while Bamgbose finished 7th in 51.92s as they bowed out of the Games.

3x African Champion, Tosin Oke leaped 16.47m while Olamigoke Olumide jumped 16.10m in the qualifying stages of the men’s Triple Jump on Day 4 and that was the end of their dream at the Rio Olympics.

Oke who finished 7th at The London Olympics wrote this on his Twitter page

“Not making the final feels like a recurring nightmare, I did everything I could, and on the day, it was not enough.”

Miles Ukaoma bowed out in the mens 400m hurdles after finishing 5th in Heat 1 with a time of 49.84s while Amaka Ogoebunam also crashed out of the Women’s 400m hurdles running 56.96s to finish 4th in Heat 6.

National Record Holder in the 110m hurdles, Antwon Hicks ran a time of 13.70s to qualify for the men’s semifinal while Okagbare Blessing ran 22.71s to win her 200m heat and qualified for the semis.

On Day 5, African Junior Record Holder, Amusan Oluwatobiloba ran a time of 12.99s to qualify for the semis.
The man who is popular for his word “I never experred it” finished second behind Usain Bolt in the 200m heat and ran a Personal Best of 20.34s in the process while his compatriot, Tega Odele finished 8th in his heat with a time of 21.25s in a race that was won by former Nigerian, Salem Yaqoob now of Bahrain with a National Record of 20.19s.

Antwon Hicks who made his debut appearance at the Olympics bowed out in the semis of the 110m hurdles after finishing 8th with a time of 14.26s.

Commonwealth Champion, Ese Brume leaped a mark of 6.67m to finish overall 6th in the qualifying stage of the Women’s Long Jump. Ending Nigeria’s quest on Day 5 was Blessing Okagbare who once failed to make the final after finishing 5th in a stacked 200m semis.

Amusan Oluwatobiloba kicked off Nigeria’s participation on Day 6 as she finished 3rd in the semifinal of the Women’s 100m hurdles and her time wasn’t enough to sail her to the finals.

Divine Oduduru also bowed out of the Men’s 200m semifinals after finishing 7th in a time of 20.59s.

Day 7 was full of high hopes as we had a team of competitors who we thought would bring home medals.

Stephen Mozia could only throw a distance of 18.98m to finish 15th in the qualifying stage and 28th overall. Mozia who set two National Records within four days could not live up to expectations even after been ranked 3rd in the World coming into the Games.
Doreen Amata who has had a fine season this year could not progress through the Group stage after scaling 1.89m to finish 13th in Group A and 27th overall.
Even with all this performances, the Women’s 4x100m team gave us a reason to smile after finishing second behind Germany to automatically qualify for the finals and were hoping to replicate the feat achieved in 2008.
Day 8 was the last day of Team Nigeria’s participation on the track and once again our hopes were crashed as the Women’s sprint relay team finished 8th in the final with a time of 43.18s.

Though she competed on Day 6 and was Nigeria’s best performer but she wasn’t recognized nor was any of her jumps shown on TV. 3x National Champion, Ese Brume who made her debut appearance at the Olympics finished 5th in the finals of the Women’s Long Jump after jumping 6.81m about .02m off her Personal Record. Ese is a bundle of talent who if adequate support is giving could go on to win a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Ese Brume who turned 20 years old in January is a 2x African Championship winner in the Long Jump and in 2013 at the African Junior Championship she won 3 medals; Gold in the Long Jump, Silver in the Triple Jump and Gold in the 4x100m. She finished strongly in the 2015 edition with 3 Gold medals and one Bronze medal. Ese Brume was the only Nigerian athlete to make the final of any Track and Field event at The Rio 2016 Olympics.

The elated athlete who spoke to journalists in Rio has this to say

” I am so excited and am thankful to God for bringing me this far. Despite the ups and down, I was still able to make it to the finals. I am very glad.” 

Many sports loving followers did not expect much from the Nigerian team. While some put their faith in God for a miracle others ruled the team out!
Now The Rio Games is over with a lot of heart breaks and disappointments. For a better outing in 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Government should support athletes and pay their prize monies and allowances as at when due. Corporate sponsors are not left out on this, thanks to Union Bank for coming to the aid of Nigerian athletes at die minute but we need more organizations to buy into the stories of these athletes now so we won’t have hiccups by 2020.
It takes four years of hard work, training and determination to be an Olympic medalist. Nigerian athletes should start now before it become a tale of “Had I known”

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