Nigeria's Tosin Oke
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
One event Wednesday afternoon where there will be so much drama to watch out for is the Men's Triple Jump.
Nigeria's Tosin Oke is one of the 12 gladiators to look out for even as Great Britain's former world champion, Idowu Phillips failed to qualify for the final.
Tuesday morning, Idowu who won the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany could only jump 16.53m to reconfirm his lack of fitness.
The distance was far from the 17.77m that earned him the silver medal at the last World Championships in Daegu, South Korea where he lost his title to unheralded American collegiate, Christian Taylor who took the gold in a mind-blowing 17.96m.
A hip injury that Idowu has been taking treatment for became his greatest undoing.
From his first jump of 16.47m, it became evident to track & field watchers that the Nigerian-born, brash British jumper, was out of tune with the sport that has endeared him to the hearts of all.
The bad day was not for Idowu alone. Only two athletes from the strong field were able to make the Olympic 17.10m 'A' standard.
They include Taylor (17.21m) and Leevan Sands (17.17m) of the Bahamas while Benjamin Compaore of France and Daniele Greco were the other two to make the 17m mark.
American Will Claye, who won a bronze at Daegu 2011 with an emphatic 17.50m, fell in the same high 16m jumpers that included Nigeria's Oke.
Oke's personal best of the event set at the Nigerian trials in Calabar last June was 17.22m.
But one of Team Nigeria's jump coaches here, Olu Sule told THISDAY that Oke, who is competely at home in London, should not be written off from making an impact Wednesday.
"When you look at how all the 12 qualifiers got to the final, you will agree that there was no fantastic performance from any of them. The 17.21m that Taylor jumped to leading all to the final is below Tosin's PB. On a good day, Tosin should be able to do better than his 16.83m in the qualification," stressed the former Nigerian long jumper.
National long jump record holder, who is also a former Team Nigeria captain, Yusuf Alli, also shared Sule's sentiments on Oke.
"What he needs is to be focussed on his jump and not be bothered with what others are doing. Just One good jump is enough to place him on the podium. If you remember Atlanta '96, Chioma (Ajunwa) was not one of the favourites for the gold but she ended up shocking the entire field with the 7.12m that gave her the gold medal," recalled Alli.