Four out of the five relay teams Nigerian is hoping to present at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will get the final chance to get the tickets to the quadrennial event on Thursday at the Teslim Balogun stadium where the Lagos Open Athletics Championship is scheduled to hold.
The teams failed to take advantage of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, Olympic Trials and Invitational Relays which ended on Sunday but they now have the now or never opportunity to book their flights to Tokyo to participate in the Olympic Games which holds between July 23 to August 8, 2021.
While the women’s 4x100m team led by the in-form Blessing Okagbare further staked a claim to one of the available two slots on offer in the event by moving one step up from 16th to 15th position following their 42.98 seconds return at the Trials on Sunday, the men’s team still has a lot to do to outrun Trinidad and Tobago who are presently occupying the final qualification (16th) spot.
With Divine Oduduru and Raymond Ekevwo absent, it will always take more than talent for the team to run inside 38.46 seconds which is the time that has provisionally qualified Trinidad and Tobago for the Games.
Officials are confident the team can run much faster than the 39.40 seconds it ran on Sunday if the baton exchange can be perfected.
The women’s 4x400m team will also have to put behind them the disappointment of not even breaking 3.31 on Sunday and will go all out after a four day rest to break 3.29 and get on the plane to Tokyo.
The team is presently down by one step to 18th after Belarus and Switzerland moved into 13th and 15th spots respectively following their impressive performances at the weekend.
Belarus improved to 3:28.14 at a meeting in Cluj-Napoca, Romania on Sunday while Switzerland also moved up in ranking and are provisionally through to Tokyo 2020 Olympics after their 1600 relay quartet ran 3:28.77 also at the same event.
The Nigerian relay team will have to run 3:28.13 to be absolutely certain of making the trip to Japan next month.
The men’s 4x400m team and the 4x400m mixed relays will also have to give their 100% before they can dream of running at the Olympics.
The men’s 1600 team will have to run 3:02.58 to provisionally move into the final qualification spot or 3:02.41 to be absolutely certain of making the trip to the Olympics.
The last time a Nigerian team broke 3:03 in the event was in 2012 when the quartet led by Saul Weigopwa won the gold medal at the African Athletics Championships in Port Novo, Benin Republic.
The mixed relay team will also need to run 3:13.57 to be absolutely sure of qualification while a 3:15.45 performnce can provisionally get the team to occupy te final qualifying spot (16th).