Nigerian duo clinch medals at IAAF World Indoors
The 2018 IAAF World Indoors Championships which was concluded on Sunday, March 4th at the Arena stadium in Birmingham, UK saw two athletes of Nigerian descent clinch Gold and Silver medals in their event.
USA’s Courtney Okolo who has an outdoor Personal Best of 49.71s in the 400m, outran the rest of the field to claim the Indoor title in a PB of 50.55s bettering her pervious Record of 50.95s.
Teammate, Shakima Wimbley finished second in 51.47s with Great Britain’s Eilidh Doyle settled for 3rd in 51.60s. She later went on to run a Championships Record of 3:23.85s alongside Wimbley, Quanera Hayes and Georganne Moline to win the Women’s 4x400m.
Speaking to theathleticheat.com after her double victory, she said “I feel great, I knew I could do it, so Glory be to God. Next I will be getting ready for outdoor season.” the Anambra state native stated.
He competed for Nigeria Team A at the 2016 CAA Grand Prix 4x400m, finished 2nd behind Divine Oduduru in the 200m final, got Disqualified in the 400m final after having the fastest time of 45.78s in the semis and couldn’t put up a good performance to make the Nigerian team to the Rio Olympics due to reoccurring injuries he suffered.
After his treatment by Altis Group in Arizona, USA soon after the Olympics trials, he was left with a decision to choose between his fatherland or country of birth after running the 3rd fastest time in 300m Indoor history in February, 2017 but he chose USA over Nigeria and he got a slot in their team to the 2017 IAAF World Relays in Bahamas where he clinched a Gold and Silver.
A couple of weeks ago, he finished 4th in the US Indoor Championships in an Indoor PB of 45.61s and got picked for the relays -his second outing for his adopted country- he didn’t disappoint as he ran a fantastic 3rd leg to further extend Team USA’s lead before handing the baton to Vernon Norwood who stopped the clock in 3:04.00s to win their heat.
Paul Dedewo didn’t run in the final as the US relay quarter of Fred Kerley, Micheal Cherry, Aldrich Bailey and Vernon Norwood surprisingly finished 2nd behind Poland in a Season’s Best of 3:01.97s. Poland took the Gold in a World Indoor Record of 3:01.77s erasing the previous record set by USA in 2014. This is the first time since 2004 that the USA team did not win the Gold in this event.
Despite not running, he was still awarded a Silver medal for his effort during the heat. He took to his Instagram page and said “Well, it’s a wrap on #iaafworlds. Disappointed I didn’t get to race in tonight’s relay final but incredibly blessed to leave #wicbham2018 as a World Championships medalist.”
Nigerian-born Norwegian fastest woman of all time, Ezinne Okparaebo competed in the Women’s 60m where she ran 7.22s to win her heat and narrowly missed the final by 2/100s but she was bothered by it as she says “positive vibes only.
“So close! Only 2/100 sec to make the final, but I choose to focus on the positive and how far I’ve come.” she posted on her Instagram page.
Team Nigeria was represented by trio; Chidi Okezie, Lindsay Lindley and Oluwatobi Amusan.
Chidi Okezie arrived Birmingham 11 hours to his 400m heat after being delayed in Paris, France for 7 hours. He competed in heat 3, had the fastest 200m spilt in his race but settled for a 3rd place finish. He narrowly missed out of the semifinal.
Lindsay Lindley competed in the 60m hurdles, finishing 4th in her heat with 8.04s then went on to place 5th in her semifinal in a Personal Best of 8.01s but couldn’t proceed to the final.
Nigeria’s hope for medal at this year’s World Indoor Championships was Tobi Amusan who has had a wonderful Indoor season, beating some of the fastest ladies in the World. She ran 7.95s to edge out Australia’s Sally Pearson in the heat, then finished 3rd in the semis with 7.91s. Amusan qualified for the final as the fastest loser and could only manage a 7th place which was applauded by Athletic buffs as this is her first time at the World Indoors.
Next stop for our Nigerian representatives would be the XXVI Commonwealth Games taking place in Gold Coast, Australia from the 4th-17th April. Good luck to all athletes!