IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Duro Ikhazuagbe

Nigeria’s athletes and officials to the 2017 IAAF World Championships scheduled to begin on Friday in London are still stranded in Lagos as the delegation is yet to be issued travel visas by the United Kingdom High Commission. The contingent was originally scheduled to depart for the 16th Worlds this evening.

Just last week, Nigeria’s delegation to the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bahamas failed to make the trip as the team was denied both UK and USA transit visas.
As at yesterday, 2017 America NCAA champion, Tobiloba Amusan who came into the country for the Worlds Trials in Abuja was yet to get her visa.

Amusan, the second fastest Nigerian female sprint hurdler at 12.57 seconds, is the country’s next biggest star after Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor. Amusan is billed to make her Worlds debut at London 2017. Okagbare is not affected by the visa hassles as she has been in and out of UK this year for competitions.
All the other home-based athletes like reigning Commonwealth Games long jump queen, Ese Brume, who will be hoping to leap at least two steps higher than her fifth place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Glory Onome Nathaniel (400m hurdles), and quarter-mile trio of Patience Okon-George, Margaret Bamgbose and Yinka Ajayi are all waiting for the travel documents to the British capital.

Two years ago, Okon-George was a semi finalist at the World Championship in Beijing. She is to lead Nigeria’s 1600m relay quartet that also have Ajayi, Bamgbose, Emerald Egwin and Abike Egbeniyi.
Listed to compete in the 4x100m relay team for Nigeria at the Championships is Alphonsus Ejikeme, Isoken Igbinosun and USA-based Jennifer Madu.

Home-boy Samson Nathaniel will compete in the 400m while the USA-based duo of Chukwuebuka Enekwachi and Edose Ibadin will also be making their first appearances at the championships.
Nigeria’s top track and field writer who was last week inaugurated as a member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) board, Oludare Esan, confirmed to THISDAY last night that the federation has asked both the IAAF and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the London 2017 to intervene on behalf of the Nigerian contingent.

“We remain hopeful that we are going to be issued with the visas with the intervention of the IAAF and the LOC of the London 2017. The only problem now is that our athletes are going to be under pressure getting to London few hours to their events,” observed the new AFN board member.

He debunked claims that the passports may have been submitted late. “ Contacts were made with the embassy officials because of the delay in conducting the Nigerian Trials for the Championships. The only addition to the list earlier sent to the embassy was the 4x100m relay quartet that was initially dropped.”
Nigeria qualified for the women’s 4x100m relay at the Trinidad and Tobago Trials but because officials were not sure if those to join Okagbare to run the event could make it to the podium, there was initial plan not to enter Nigeria for the sprint relay.