It was a case of close but yet so far for Team Nigeria’s girls, as they missed out on what could have been Nigeria’s very first medal at the Inaugural World Relay Championships on Saturday. The quartet of Gloria Asumnu, Blessing Okagbare, Dominique Duncan and Francesca Okwara finished in a season’s best time of 42.67s, behind Team USA (41.88s), Jamaica (42.28s) and Trinidad & Tobago (42.66s):
This was an extremely commendable run for the quartet, especially considering the Duncan and Okwara were competing for Nigeria for the very first time. They had also run a season’s best in the Heats, with a 42.77s run that qualified them for the final behind Jamaica. In the Final, they were just 3 hundredths of a second off the time that the quartet of Christy Udoh, Gloria Asumnu, Oludamola Osayomi & Blessing Okagbare ran at the London Olympics, also for 4th place.
Despite the narrow loss of the Bronze medal, Nigerians can take solace from the fact that by virtue of finishing in the Top 8 in this event at the World Relays, our women’s 4x100m team have qualified automatically for the 2015 World Championships in Beijing! Let’s applaud them for a job well done – with Team USA not taking part in the Commonwealth Games in July/August, This Nigeria team should be a shoe-in for a Commonwealth Games medal, providing they can get the baton round safely!
Here’s what the Team Nigeria ladies had to say after the race:
You missed out on the Bronze by a hundredth of a second – how can the team take this performance?
I think it was okay, it’s a totally new group and we’re just getting to know each other. We’re working on certain things, so I think we did okay
You ran a Season’s Best (SB) in the final, can you take some encouragement from that?
We ran an SB in the heats and the finals, so that’s something to go home with. I think that’s one of the fastest that the Nigeria team has actually done, so I think it’s great for us going forward.
I think you were only 0.4 seconds away from the Nigerian and African Record? Do you think this team can break that record this year or next year?
We will be able to break it – this is a new team, so once the girls start running faster we will do it. Like I said, we’re just getting to know each other and learning so much from each other.
So this team should be in good frame to get a medal at the Commonwealth Games?
Yeah, we’re looking forward to that!
How do you feel about missing the Bronze by a hundredth of a second?
I mean that hurts, because it’s like you’re right there. This is the first time that the four of us have run together, believe it or not. We haven’t done many handoffs, so it’s a good sign for what’s to come, we just need to come together as a team and do what we need to do for the Commonwealth Games, and for the following year
You ran SBs in the heats and finals and not very far away from the Nigerian and African Record?
Yes, that’s something we’re chasing, but at the same time we just want to stay healthy and be able to get better individually, so when we come together as four (the improvement) is automatic
What are your hopes for the Commonwealth Games, individually and relay?
Individually, we need to bring home medals. Everyone, no matter what event it is – make the finals and bring home medals! For the relays, we’re keen to focus on that too because, you know, Nigeria loves relays! It’s about team unity, so to bring home a GOLD would be excellent!
This is the first time you’re competing for Nigeria – can you tell Nigerians back home a bit about yourself? What can we expect from you in the coming years?
Well, I grew up in Memphis but my dad was born in Nigeria – he’s from Imo State. I run the 100 and 200 metres – you can look out for me to become one of the top sprinters for Nigeria in the future.
Fantastic – what are your Personal Bests (PBs) in the 100m & 200m?
11.4 seconds in the 100 metres, and 23.3 seconds in the 200 metres
Have you been to Nigeria recently? When will you be coming next?
Actually I’ve never been – I’ll be coming for the first time in June, for the Commonwealth Games Trials. I hope to lower my PBs, to 11.2 in the 100 metres and to 23 low in the 200 metres.