NIGERIA has won a record four gold medals at an international athletics tournament after the U20 team at the recently-concluded junior championships in Kenya finished third with a total of seven medals.
In an unprecedented success for Nigerian track and field athletics, Team Nigeria came away from the biennial World Athletics U20 championships with four gold and three bronze medals. It beats the previous record set in 1990 when Nigeria came seventh at the third edition of the championships in Bulgaria where they won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals.
Nigeria’s 4x400m mixed relay team began the unprecedented haul with its historic, championships record-setting performance of 3:19.7 on the opening day of the championships. Reigning the fastest U17 quarter-miler in the world, 17-year-old Imaobong Nse Uko added the second in the women’s 400m with a new 51.55 seconds personal best, making her the fourth Nigerian woman to win the event after Fatimah Yusuf (1990), Bisi Afolabi (1994) and Folashade Abugan (2008).
Udodi Onwuzurike then gave Nigeria the third gold in the men’s 200m, also setting a new 20.21 seconds personal best in the process. Then, the women’s 4x400m relay team put the icing on the cake with winning Nigeria’s second gold medal in the relay in the history of the championships, running a new World U20 lead of 3:31.46.
In addition to the four gold medals, the team also picked three bronze medals with one coming from an unfamiliar territory, the men’s javelin. Chinacherem Nnamdi, 19, set a new 78.02m national U20 record in the qualifiers for the javelin but could not replicate the feat in the final which could have given him the gold.
Chinacherem’s 74.48m throw landed him in the bronze medal position, a first-ever for Nigeria in the event. Favour Ofili added the second bronze medal in the women’s 200m, also setting a new 22.23 seconds personal best and national U20 record before helping the women’s 4x100m team to a bronze medal finish in 43.90 seconds.
Quartermile barrier runner, Nathaniel Ezekiel also set an impressive personal best of 49.89 seconds in the men’s 400m hurdles to finish fourth, Nigeria’s best ever position in the event. He has also become the 13th Nigerian to break the 50 seconds barrier in the event and has moved up to number 12 in the Nigerian all-time list.