Ofili, Okezie made our job easy in Bahamas, says AFN

United States-based board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Victor Okorie, has singled out the duo of Favour Ofili and Chidi Okezie as the brain behind the qualification of four Nigerian relay teams for Paris 2024 Olympics at the recently concluded World Relays in Bahamas.

Team Nigeria picked four out of five relay tickets to the Paris 2024 Olympics Games in Bahamas.

Speaking with The Guardian from his base in the U.S., yesterday, Okorie, who was part of AFN officials to the Caribbean Island, said: “I know that all the athletes did their best in ensuring our qualification, but I must praise Ofili for her doggedness in the women’s 4x100m relay and Okezie for his never-say-die attitude in both the mixed relay and men’s 4×400 relay.”

In Bahamas, the reigning African Games 400m champion, Okezie, won the hearts of the spectators at the stadium, when he powered Nigeria’s mixed relay team to seal their spot at the Olympics for the second consecutive time with a time of 3:13.79.

The quartet of Samuel Ogazi, Ella Onojuvwevwo, Okezie and Esther Elo Joseph competed in the second heat alongside the reigning World Champions, USA, Bahrain and South Africa.

Ogazi ran a tactical race despite overcoming a sluggish start to hand the baton to Onojuvwevwo, who went neck and neck with USA’s Lynna Irby Jackson. She handed the baton to Okezie, who overtook the lead from USA after going past Ryan Willie in the bend with fastest overall split of 44.78s. Esther Elo Joseph took over and held on to the lead until the last 100m, where Kendall Elis surged through to retake the lead, bringing the stick round in a Championships Record (CR) of 3:11.52, while Team Nigeria placed second with a time of 3:13.79.

The mixed relay team got a cash prize reward of $8000 (N11,144,000) for its effort.After missing the women’s 4x100m ticket on the first day, Ofili piloted Nigeria to victory on the second day.

In the absence of world record holder in the 100m hurdles, Tobi Amusan, who could not make the trip to Bahamas, the quartet of Justina Eyakpobeyan, Favour Ofili, Olayinka Olajide and Tima Godbless showed impressive team chemistry, storming to victory in their heat in a time of 42.71s to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Ofili, who is Nigeria’s 200m indoor and outdoor record holder, ran an incredible second leg, posting 10.02seconds to get Nigeria into a great position with reigning National Sports Festival double sprint champion, Tima Godbless anchoring home in first position (42.71).

For Okorie, the feat achieved by Okozie and Ofili in Bahamas should be commended.

“Do you know what it means for a female athlete to run 10.02s? It placed Ofili as the second-best athlete in the world at the moment,” Okorie stated,

He revealed that the AFN has put the machinery in motion for the women’s 4x400m to qualify for the Olympics.

“The current time of our women 4×400 relay team is 3:27.29s. For us to be comfortable as far as picking up one of the two remaining spots, we need to run 3:26 or better because there are still some good countries out there that went to the World Relays and didn’t get the Olympics qualification.

“But I am very confident that our women’s 4x400m will make it to the Olympics. I must thank our Sports Minister and his Performance team, as well as the AFN president, who has been on top of things to ensure that all five relay teams make it to Paris 2024,” Okorie stated.

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