Oduduru, Ekevwo Line up Amongst Sprint Big Boys as Doha 2019 Begins


Duro Ikhazuagbe

Track & field numero uno competition, the IAAF World Athletic Championships is scheduled to begin this morning at the iconic Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar with the men’s 100m the focal point of the opening day.

Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru is the country’s best prospect for podium placement. Despite the fact that Oduduru was beaten to the gold medal of the last African Games by compatriot Raymond Ekevwo in Rabat, Morocco last month, the American NCAA sprint double champion is the second fastest man in the field in Doha.

The 22-year-old Nigerian who has produced a season very similar to Christian Coleman’s 2017 campaign, have some mouth-watering pair of sub-10 performances early on in the year.

Oduduru won the NCAA 100m title in 9.86 and doubled back to take the 200m crown in a blazing 19.73.

However, his follow up performances since taking to the pro circuit have provided mixed results. Oduduru’s 10.26 run in Paris in his pro debut and the more recent 20.54 to take the 200m event at the African Games have created some kind of mixed feelings in the minds of Nigerians and other track aficionados dreaming of seeing the Delta-born sprinter ascend the podium to signify Nigeria’s return to the top again in the men’s sprint culture.

Did Oduduru peaked too early in the season in the NCAA? Is he capable of shaking off the post NCAA blues to stake for the podium in the blistering weather in Doha? All these questions and others will be known by the time the final of the 100m event of the Doha 2019 is decided tomorrow night inside the Khalifa Stadium.

As for the other two Nigerians like Raymond Ekevwo and Itsekiri Usheoritse listed for the 100m event, reaching the semis should be enough consolation for them. But nobody should completely rule out 20 year-old Ekevwo from any surprise like he did in Morocco blasting to a 9.96 personal best to take the African Games title.

The gold is open for the likes of Yohan Blake, Christian Coleman, Akani Simbine, Zharnel Hughes, Canada’s Aaron Brown and Rio triple medallist Andre de Grasse and the most experienced sprinter in the field who is defending champion, Justin Gatlin.

Gatlin’s victory in London came 12 years after his first. He’s gone under 10 seconds four times this season, capped by a 9.87 performance in Stanford in late June, but clocked just 10.29 in his most recent race in Zagreb three weeks ago where he was hit my a minor hamstring injury.

Another former champion in the field is Blake, the 2011 winner in Daegu, South Korea, whose 9.96 in Lausanne is the fastest by a Jamaican this year.

Others hoping to impress are Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, the double dash winner at the 2015 World U18 Championships who joined the sub-10 ranks with 9.97, Arthur Cisse, who lowered Ivory Coast’s national record to 9.93.

Other Nigerians listed to compete for glory at Doha 2019 include Emmanuel Arowolo as well as Oduduru who will represent the country in the Men’s 200m event.

Blessing Okagbare is the country’s sole representative in the Women’s 100 starting tomorrow and also in the 200 metre events.

National champion, Patience Okon and African Games Silver Medallist, Favour Ofili, will represent the country in the Women’s 400m event.

African Games and Commonwealth Gold Medallist Tobiloba Amusan will feature in the women’s 100mH while Rilwan Alowonle and Edose Ibadin will feature in the Men’s 400mH and 800m events respectively.

For Field events, African Games gold medallists, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi and Oyesade Olatoye, will feature in the Men and Women’s Short-Put events respectively while African Games Discus throw champion Chioma Onyekwere will feature in the Women’s Discus throw event.

Nigeria’s outstanding Long Jumper and All African Games Gold Medallist Ese Brume will feature in the Women’s long jump event.

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