Enoch Adegoke and Blessing Okagbare emerged Nigeria’s fastest man and woman respectively winning the 100m events of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Olympics Trials in Lagos on Thursday.
Adegoke won the men’s 100m in 10.00secs, ahead of Usheoritse Itsekiri and Okeoghene Brume, who placed second and third respectively in 10.07secs and 10.09secs.
The winning time ensured Adegoke qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after meeting the men’s 100m qualification standard of 10.05secs.
He becomes the 12th Nigerian track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympics.
In the women’s 100m final it was mixed feelings for Okagbare, who saw her 10.63secs winning time declared illegal after a 2.7m/s wind assist.
If the time had stood, Okagbare would have become the joint-fastest woman alive and the joint-second fastest woman in the world, equalling the time set by Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in Kingston, Jamaica June 5.
The wind also stopped second-place Rosemary Chukwuma, who ran 11.07secs, from qualifying for the Olympics.
National Sports Festival gold medallist Grace Nwokocha placed third in 11.11secs.
Speaking after the race an elated Okagbare said 2021 had been a breakthrough year for her.
“It’s great to execute a race and run the time to know you are capable of running it. I have been doing this for five years in a row and this year has been different for me. I feel happy, I feel like Blessing Okagbare again and I just want to go out every time and do my best.
“I’m just happy at the time today, it boosted my confidence and I just hope this same thing happens at the Olympics,” Okagbare told The PUNCH.
Adegoke also attributed his Olympics qualification to the support his received from the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who adopted him last month.
“It’s very hard expressing my excitement, I’m very happy. I had to wait for this time; it’s been long that I have been praying for a time like this. Every competition, it’s always on my mind to run the qualification standard, but then, God’s time is always the best.
“My preparation has been awesome, we went on a training tour in the US and I had some exposure and I came back and followed my coach’s programme. Presently, we are in camp and the most important thing is for me now is that the sports minister adopted me like a month ago and the support had a very good effect on my performance because I had funds to prepare myself. Thinking less about money is very important in the life of an athlete,” Adegoke said.