Nigeria: Top Nigerian Athlete Disqualified From World Championship

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(file photo)
29 September 2019

Top Nigerian sprinter, Divine Oduduru, has been disqualified from further taking part in the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Doha even as his compatriot, Blessing Okagbare, looks set to suffer a similar fate.

The duo ran foul of one of the competition's rules which has resulted in a stiff punishment from the world athletics body, IAAF.

Oduduru and Okagbare were initially entered for three events each in the Men and Women's 100m, 200m and 4x100m relays.

However, on the eve of their participation, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN tweeted that the duo had both opted to 'concentrate' on the 200m and pulled out of the 100m which they had also been registered for.

Allowing the duo have their way was a gaffe on the part of the AFN as the competition rules does not allow such last-minute withdrawals.

Official:

Blessing Okagbare and Divine Oduduru won't be competing in the Women's and Men's 100m event respectively.

Both athletes have decided to rather focus on the 200m and relay events. Contrary to speculations, none of the athletes are injured.

Thank you. #Doha2019 pic.twitter.com/p7OZ9CBX1Q

- Athletics Federation of Nigeria (@The_AFN) September 27, 2019

Consequently, on the start list for Men's 200m heat billed for Sunday, Oduduru is conspicuously missing because of the violation.

With Oduduru technically knocked off, only Emmanuel Arowolo will represent Nigeria in the event which is starting on Sunday.

The 2017 National Champion in the event has been drawn in lane 9 of Heat 5.

The start list for the Women's 200m Heat is yet be released but it is unlikely that Okagbare will be spared as she committed a similar offense like her compatriot, Oduduru.

An excerpt of the competition rules states:

At all competitions under Rules 1.1(a), (b), (c) and (f), an athlete

shall be excluded from participation in all further events (including other events in which he is simultaneously participating) in the competition, including relays, in cases where:

(a) a final confirmation was given that the athlete would start in an event but then failed to participate;

Note: A fixed time for the final confirmation of participation shall be published in advance.

At the African Games, Oduduru also opted out of the 100m and only competed in the 200m and 4x100m races where he won silver medals.

As for Okagbare, her false start in the Women's 100m event in Rabat marked an end to her dreams for another African Games medal. She was not available for the Women's relay and was not registered for the 200m event.

The AFN is yet to issue any official statement on the obvious technical gaffe that has further trimmed Nigeria's slim chances of winning any medal in Doha.

Meanwhile, the duo of Raymond Ekevwo and Rilwanu Alowonle who competed in the semifinal of the 100m and 400m Hurdles events on Saturday both failed to make it to the final having finished 5th and 8th respectively.

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