Paul Dedewo runs under 46s for the fourth time this year!
Paul Dedewo is one athlete who would have been very instrumental to the Nigerian team but the 26-year-old US born 400m specialist whose parents hail from Delta and Edo state respectively chose to compete for his country of birth and he is really proving his worth. Despite his decision we still regard him as our own!
In 2016, Paul decided to give a try to compete for his fatherland, Nigeria and he took part in the All Nigeria Championships where he had the fastest qualifying time in the heats (45.79s) but unfortunately in the final he was disqualified due to a false start. He finished 2nd in the in men’s 200m final with 20.58s and this times could not get him to Rio for the Olympics.
He later teamed up with Adekunle Fasasi, Chidi Okezie and Miles Ukuoma in the 4x400m to represent Nigeria Team A during the CAA Grand Prix the following day in a quest to meet the Olympic standard which they could not achieve. They posted a time of 3:04.91s more than 2s slower than the 3:02.00s required.
Paul was listed to make his debut international appearance on the Nigerian team at the African Senior Championships in Durban, South Africa but he didn’t make the trip due to a recurring knee injury.
Soon after returning to the States from the All Nigeria Championships. Dedewo relocated to Phoenix, AZ to train with ALTIS World, an elite training group. He was offered a partial scholarship for the 2016-17 track season and he started training with some of the best Track and Field athletes in the world; Andre De Grasse, Lashawn Merrit, Wilfred Koffi amongst other fast athletes and also receiving care from a team of top-class massage therapist.
“This is a big and difficult move but I am confident this is where the Lord is leading me. The goal is to develop into a smarter, healthier athlete, make new friends and qualify for and compete at the World Championships in #London2017” he posted on Instagram.
Barely 5 months after relocating to Arizona, he was happy with the development because he started to see improvement.
“I’m happy to announce for the first time in 8 years. I’ve been training injury-free! Last week I ran an Indoor PB of 45.73 (A,OT). If Track and Field is team sport, I’m nothing without my team @CoachKTyler @ALTISWorld PTS @Jerodcarnahan_lmt @iordan.krouchev and Rick Wade and my training partners” he posted on Instagram. Indeed his journey to Arizona wasn’t a bad idea.
In March this year, Dedewo competed at the USATF Indoor Championships where he ran a PB of 32.98s in the 300m heat before bettering the time to 31.92s in the final behind youngster Noah Lyles who stopped the clock in a World Record time of 31.87s.
Dedewo’s time ranked him 3rd fastest in history. If he had decided to compete for Nigeria, that would have been a National Record smashing University of Florida’s Fasasi Adekunle 33.09s.
With this achievement, he was left to decide if he will compete for USA and forego representing Nigeria. After much consideration and also talking to many athletes, coaches and officials both American and Nigerian, he decided to declare as American.
“It was tough but I had to choose the option that would help me best steward and support the growth of this gift the Lord has given me.” he said while speaking to Athletic Heat.
Immediately after his decision, he got a National call from USATF and he was on his way to Nassau, Bahamas for the 3rd IAAF World Relays, when makingofchampions.com published the story of him being listed on the American team, a lot a Nigerians were angered by his decision while some were happy and according to them “he made the right decision.”
He competed in the mixed 4x400m where he ran an impressive 3rd leg for the US. He alongside Mike Berry, Jaide Stepter and Francis Phyllis finished in the Silver medal position running a time of 3:17.29 behind host nation; Bahamas (3:14.42) while Jamaica was third in 3:20.26.
Even with his performance, many opined that despite being on the World Relay team, he would not be able to make the World Championships team considering the fact the USA has so many fast athletes, but Dedewo is proving them wrong as the weeks go by.
After the World Relays, he ran his 400m season opener at Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa where he finished 4th in a then Season Best of 45.96s and he achieved this from Lane 1 in a cold and windy condition. He tweeted “Looking forward to faster times in better weather”.
A week later at Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, Dedewo won the event in a then Personal Best (PB) of 45.33s, a massive improvement from Drake Relays. As if that was not enough warning, at the Meeting International D’Athletisme Saint-Martin, he improved further to 45.30 (PB) as he claimed an impressive win over Olympic medalist, Lalonde Gordon (46.14s).
Dedewo took to his twitter handle and said “44s coming real soon!”. Indeed it’s certainly around the corner as the New York native bettered his time once again yesterday at the Guadeloupe Invitational in Baie-Mahaut, France. Paul stopped the clock in a mind-blowing time of 45.14s with Lashawn Merrit taking the win in 44.98s. Norwood Vermon was third in 45.18s and it was clean sweep for USA in the French nation. This is the fourth time Dedewo is running within 45s range and it has been a smooth progression ever since. Who knows, he might surprise the world by running a 44.8s in his next meet!
With this, it is obvious that when the USATF holds their national trails, Paul should be able to run under 45s comfortably and hopefully not only qualify in the relay pool but also in the flat. He has also met the qualifying standard in the 200m running a time of 20.40s at Sun Angel Classic last month but to compete for the US team in the event, he will have to go under 20s bearing in mind the quality of the American athletes.
One thing is sure, when he makes the US team to the IAAF World Championships, he would have the right support and care from the American government which includes smiling graciously to the bank.
This is one area that the new board should really look into when elected on June 13th because if the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) continue to treat athletes badly, they will be discouraged to compete for their fatherland and would prefer to go to the length of even changing their names just to have a better life through sports by competing for other nations.
Photo credit: makingofchamps.com