Nigeria’s preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has hit top gear as 16 athletes departed the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on Thursday aboard a Delta Airlines flight to Texas, USA where they will take part in some track and field meetings as they bid to qualify for the five relay events at the Games in Tokyo.
The sixteen athletes and coaches wore their new kits and were seen off by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare.
The team trained in Abuja in preparation for the relay races they have been scheduled to take part in and which have been designated as qualifying events for the Olympics after missing out of the World Relays in Poland due to visa hitches.
”Our athletes are highly motivated to participate in various relay events in the United States,” Niyi Beyioku, the Secretary General of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria said.
Beyioku added: “The Athletes have trained very well and are motivated to make the country proud by qualifying for all the relay events at the Olympics. All the Covid-19 protocols for a successful trip have been carried out. To underscore the importance of the trip, the Honourable Minister lived up to his promise to see the athletes off to motivate and encourage them to paste smiles on the faces of Nigerians by qualifying for the Olympics and win medals at the Games proper.”
The team would take part in its first relay on May 9th.
Nigeria women’s 4x100m relay team has provisionally qualified for the Games by being one of the two fastest nations who have taken up the two available slots after the World Relays ended Sunday in Poland.
“What we need to do is just to run faster than our rivals and possibly overtake Brazil who occupies the 15th slot. We have never had a team as talented as the women’s 400 relay team and we at the AFN are confident of a podium finish in Tokyo.”
The women’s 4x400m is currently ranked the 17th best in the 16-nation relay event and will need to break 3.28 to be guaranteed as place as one of the nations to fill the four available slots currently occupied by Australia, Switzerland, India and Dominican Republic.
The men’s 4x100m team is also currently ranked 17th and will need to at least break the 37.94 national record to guarantee a place among the 16 nations that will line up for the event in Tokyo while the 4x400m team must break 3.03 for the first time since 2012 to stand a chance of qualifying.
The Mixed Relay event which will be making its debut at the Games is the last relay event Nigeria is eager to qualify for and to do so, the team must break 3.16 to be guaranteed the chance of filling out for the event in Tokyo.