With inability of Tobi Amusan to overcome the psychological trauma inflicted on her by Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), finishing sixth in the women’s 100m hurdles final and Ese Brume also placing outside the podium in the long jump, Team Nigeria will be returning home from the 2023 World Athletics Championships which ended last night in Budapest, Hungary, empty-handed.
This is the 11th time in the 19 editions of the Worlds that no Nigerian athlete will make it to the podium.
At the last edition in Oregon, USA last yesterday, Amusan won the country’s first individual gold medal and also set a world record of 12.12secs in the sprint hurdles. Brume on the other hand, built on the bronze medal she won at Doha 2019, with a silver medal at Oregon 2022.
Amusan missed the sprint hurdles bronze by the whiskers in Doha, placing 4th. The then 25-year-old Amusan followed up with a first ever gold medal by a Nigerian at World Athletics’ flagship event!
Nigeria failed to win any medal in Shanghai 2015 and London 2017.
With Amusan and Brume out of the Budapest 2023 medals equation, attention shifted to the relays to salvage the country’s image. Sadly, Nigeria’s men and women’s 4x100m relay quartet failed to make it to the final with the women’s team even dropping the baton.
Similarly, the women’s 4x400m team that made it to Sunday’s final, failed in the bid for a relay medal. Two of the athletes who qualified Nigeria amongst the 16 teams for the Championships relay were turned ‘dumped’ because the AFN failed to include them in the registered pool of athletes to be tested for three out-of-competition tests which was a pre-condition for any Nigerian athlete to fulfill before they can compete in any major international competitions and Games.
Unlike previous outings, Team Nigeria had only two athletes in the final which makes this edition one of the worst in terms of performance.
Shot Putter, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, who, for the first time in three editions, failed to make it to the final, finished 13th in the final classification.
The women’s Discus throw trio of Chioma Onyekwere, Ashley Anumba and Obiageri Pamela Amaechi failed to extend their historic participation (first time
Nigeria is having three throwers in the same event) to at least a spot at the podium.
Onyekwere, the Commonwealth Games champion finished 21st (58.58m), Anumba, the 2022 National Sports Festival queen 25th (57.77m) and Amaechi (51.60m) finished 37th, the last spot in the overall classification.
In the 400m, Imaobong Nse Uko and Dubem Nwachkwu failed to race beyond the first round in the women and men’s races while Ezekiel Nathaniel’s bid to become the second Nigerian after Henry Amike (1987) to make the final of the 400m hurdles ended at the semifinal stage.
While the duo of Ushoritse Itsekiri and Seye Ogunlewe failed to make it to the final in the 100m, Favour Ashe was disqualified in the first round for a false start.
In the women’s version, Rosemary Chukwuma failed to advance to the final, exiting at the semifinal stage. Alaba Akintola and Favour Ofili did not advance beyond the semifinal while only the duo of Brume and Amusan made it to the final.
Nigeria first failed to make the podium in 1991 in Tokyo, Japan and repeated the same feat two years later in Stuttgart, Germany in 1993.
Sunday Bada, now late, anchored Nigeria’s 4x400m relay team to a bronze medal finish in 1995 in Gothenburg, Sweden and Davidson Ezinwa followed suit two years later in Athens, Greece where he led the 4x100m team to an African record and a silver medal.
The duo of Glory Alozie and Francis Obikwelu returned Team Nigeria to individual podium finishes in Seville, Spain in 1999, 12 years after Innocent Egbunike won Nigeria’s second individual medal at the Championships (after Ajayi Agbebaku won a triple jump bronze in 1983).
Alozie won a silver medal in the 100m hurdles while Obikwelu settled for bronze after raising hopes of a first ever gold medal in the 200m with his 19.84 run in the semifinal.
Then followed six editions without a medal, from 2001 in Edmonton, Canada to 2011 in Daegu, South Korea before Blessing Okagbare popped up with two individual medals in Moscow, Russia in 2013.