19 June 2012

Nigeria: Okagbare, Osayomi Set to Rekindle Rivalry

BLESSING Okagbare and Damola Osayomi are set to rekindle their rivalry in the women's 100m as the cream of Nigeria's best athletes converge in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, for the 2012 All Nigeria Open Athletics Championships.

This year's edition, which holds from June 19-21, promises to be highly competitive as it serves as qualifying event for the country's athletes who hope to represent Nigeria in next month's Olympic Games in London.

Okagbare and Osayomi have in the past few years maintained a healthy rivalry in the 100m with the former having the upper hand on each occasion.

Indeed Okagbare will be itching to make history as the first woman to win the blue ribbon title for four consecutive times in about 30 years.

Okagbare's 11.01 seconds run last month in Doha at the opening leg of the IAAF Diamond League is the fastest time returned by a Nigerian so far this term with USA-based Gloria Asumnu's 11.21 seonds return in Birmingham, Alabama, and also making the second fastest in the Nigeria top list.

Okagbare will also be the athlete to beat in the 200m as her 22.63 seconds run last weekend in Eugene, Oregon at the Prefontaine Classic IAAF Diamond League meeting is the fastest run by any Nigerian woman so far this year.

In the women's 400m hurdles, Ajoke Muizat Odumosu's 55.07 personal season's best run in Baie Mahault last month weekend is the fastest time by a Nigerian over the distance so far this year and among the top 10 fastest times in the world so far this term.

IAAF World Junior 4x400m silver medallist, Bukola Abogunloko is on also on course towards retaining the 400m gold she won at the championships last year after clocking a 51.57 personal best in the full lap race last month in Atlanta, USA.

The time is the fastest returned by a Nigerian quarter miler so far this year.

In the women's Shot Put, the duo of 13-time champion, Vivian Chukwuemeka who tops the national list with her 17.64m throw in California last weekend and defending champion, Okoro Chinwe who holds a 17.39m personal season's best, will battle it out for the title, cash and ticket.

In the Discus event, Okoro leads the way and looks very much on course to retaining the title she won last year in Calabar.

Her 58.25m personal best-setting mark in Louisville, Kentucky last month is top of the pre-championships list and it is a new national record.

For the men, Amaechi Morton will be the clear favourite in the 400m hurdles if he decides to return to wear the country's green and white colours.

He tops the national list with his virtuoso 48.95 seconds run which has placed him not only among the top 10 on the world list but also among the few athletes who have run inside 49 seconds.

He will also be in contention for the 400m flat if he decides to participate as he holds the second fastest time by a Nigerian so far this year at 46.12 seconds behind University of Texas in El Paso, UTEP's Abiola Onakoya who holds a personal season's best time of 46.08 seconds.

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