Incredible Onojuvwevwo breaks 27-year-old record, picks Olympics ticket

.FG should encourage AFN, athletes, says Nesiama

A few days after she powered Nigeria’s mixed relay team to the Paris 2024 Olympics with an impressive race at the World Athletics Relays in Bahamas, U.S.-based speed star, Ella Onojuvwevwo, in the early hours of yesterday, clocked a new lifetime best of 50.57s to finish second in her heat and earn an auto-qualifying spot to not only the SEC Outdoor Championships final, but also the Paris Olympics.

The Nigerian’s time broke the Louisiana State University’s 27-year-old record of 50.60 seconds and moved her up to No. 5 in the all-time Nigerian performance list behind Falilat Ogunkoya (49.10), Charity Opara (49.29), Fatimah Yusuf (49.43A) and Olabisi Afolabi (50.30).

The 19-year-old Onojuvwevwo’s time is also the fastest 400m time recorded by a Nigerian since Falilat Ogunkoya ran 50.50 to qualify for the 400m final at the World Athletics Championships in Edmonton, Canada.

Onojuvwevwo had served notice of becoming the eighth Nigerian woman to dip inside 51 seconds when she improved her lifetime best from 51.85 to 51.32 last month, and ran an impressive 50.45 leg at the World Athletics Relays in Nassau, Bahamas last weekend.

She is now being touted as the perfect replacement for Falilat Ogunkoya, the Nigerian Olympic history-maker who still owns the African record at 49.10.

Imaobong Nse Uko had been touted as the athlete to step into the big shoes Ogunkoya left behind, but the 2021 World U20 champion has failed to live up to expectations. It is Onojuvwevwo that seems to be fulfilling those expectations now.

Speaking with ‘The Guardian’, yesterday, U.S.-based board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Victor Okorie said: “After watching her performed at the World Relays in Bahamas, I know that Ella will go places this season. I congratulate her for picking the ticket to Paris,” Okorie stated.

Another AFN board member, retired Commodore Omatseye Nesiama, also congratulated Onojuvwevwo for her great performance.

“All the athletes know my heart’s desires for them. I am happy with their determination so far but they should know that the ultimate is the podium at the Olympics.

“It is also good that World Athletics is offering prize monies for podium finishes. So, the Olympics has gone beyond mere participation to that which also has pecuniary benefit. To get there can only be through dedication, discipline and determination. No short cut.”

Nesiama continues: “I also want to plead with the Federal Government to use the manner it takes to encourages Team Nigeria as a way of boosting the morale of the athletes and indeed Nigerians. Playing the Nigerian anthem with our flag raised a couple of times would be soul lifting and a real reassurance to all that better days are nigh that could symbolise a truly renewed hope.”

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