The 2021 National Championships and Invitational Relays will hold between Wednesday, June 16 and Monday June 21, 2021 at the Yaba College of Technology sports ground in Yaba, Lagos, according to the Athletics Federation of Nigeria.
The Secretary General of the federation Adeniyi Adisa Beyioku, says this year’s National Championships will be used as selection trials to pick Nigeria’s contingent to the Olympics in Tokyo which is scheduled to hold from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
In a letter sent to state athletics associations, military and clubs, the AFN stated that the event would take place under strict compliance with the COVID-19 Sports Code Protocols put in place by the Federal Government of Nigeria for sports engagement.
The AFN also revealed that Wednesday June 16 will be for arrivals of the invited athletes and others who have met the competition’s entry standard at designated hotels while the competition proper will start on Thursday June 17 and run for four days.
“The AFN is set to host the national championships and this year’s edition will be used to select the athletes who will represent Nigeria at the Olympics in Tokyo,” Beyioku said.
The AFN Secretary also said that a six-nation invitational relay will be held on the sidelines of the National Championships.
“The invitational relays have become very important as it, for now, remains the only window left for Nigeria to secure qualifications for the relay events of the Olympics.
“We know our women’s 4x100m team have qualified provisionally for Tokyo and we are confident others will also make the cut before the June 29, 2021 final deadline for qualification.”
The Nigerian men’s 4x100m and the women’s 4x400m teams are just a step from making it to Tokyo as they are ranked 17th in their respective events.
Beyioku listed Zambia, Botswana, Benin Republic, Cameroun and Zimbabwe as the five countries confirmed to join Nigeria in the relay event in Lagos.
“Apart from the relays, the championship is also the final window for our athletes to qualify for their individual events. So far 11 athletes have qualified and they are Blessing Okagbare (100m,200m), Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha, Favour Ofili (200m), Tobi Amusan (100m Hurdles), Ese Brume (Long Jump), Ruth Usoro (Long and Triple Jump), Annette Echiunwoke (Hammer Throw), Divine Oduduru (100m, 200m), Raymond Ekevwo (100m), Usheoritse Itshekiri (100m) and Chukwuebuka Enekwechi (Shot Put).”
The National Championships is the flagship event of the AFN where the nation’s top athletes will converge to compete for honours and qualifications for major Championships and Games.