The Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium is buzzing with excitement as the greatest athletes in Nigeria compete for berths.
Oluwatobilola Amusan, who holds the world record for the 100-meter hurdles, demonstrated yesterday in Stockholm why she is still the woman to beat by running a time of 12.52 seconds to win the Swedish leg of the Diamond League. Her performance earned her the victory.
In Lausanne, Switzerland, on Friday, Amusan ran the 100 meters in 12.45 seconds, which was good enough for second place behind Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who set a new meet record by running the race in 12.40 seconds. Amusan’s performance on Saturday was faster than what she ran on Friday.
Emmanuel Bamidele of Nigeria, who is not as well known as Zakhiti Nene of South Africa, ran the 400 meters in 45.48 seconds to win the silver medal. Zakhiti Nene of South Africa ran the event in 45.30 seconds to win the gold medal.
However, things did not go so well for the woman who won the silver medal at the World Championships in the long jump event for women, Ese Brume. She could only place fifth.
Amusan, Brume, and Emmanuel, along with other Nigerian athletes competing in the Diamond League, are expected to arrive in Benin today to compete in the national trials held by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). These trials serve as a qualifier for this year’s World Athletics Championships, which are scheduled to take place in Budapest, Hungary.
Already, seven athletes with their primary bases outside of Nigeria are among the more than 160 competitors who are scheduled to compete at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium from July 5 to 7. They will be competing for two available spots in Budapest.
Even though the AFN has specified tomorrow as the arrival date, some of the stars who are stationed outside of the country have already arrived in Benin City.
“The security staff at the Samuel Ogbemudia are having a difficult time handling the big turnout of fans due to the fact that there are so many of them. They want to watch the athletes who are based overseas train, an AFN official who is part of the advanced team that is now in Edo State disclosed yesterday.
“I am sure the crowd will be more this year compared to what we had last year because of the superlative performance by Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume at the last edition of the World championships in Oregon, United States,” the official added. “I am sure the crowd will be more this year because of the superlative performance by Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume at the last edition of the World championships.”
The Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium served as the location for the national trials that took place the year before. These trials were used to select athletes to compete at the World Championships in Oregon as well as the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Yusuf Alli, the chairman of the organizing committee, has given his word that the people of Edo State and the government of Edo State will provide the highest level of hospitality to the visiting athletes and officials for the duration of their time in Benin City.
Alli, who is the chairman of the Edo State Sports Commission and who still holds the record for the Long Jump that he set in 1989 in Lagos, gave an assurance yesterday that there would be side attractions such as cultural dance to entertain the spectators. Alli set the record for the Long Jump in Lagos.
“Not only is Edo State the most successful sporting state in Nigeria, but it is also the cultural and entertainment capital of the country. “During the entirety of the National Trials, each and every one of these will be on display,” remarked Alli.
It is anticipated that Amusan, Brume, Favour Ofili, Ezekiel, Nnamdi Prosper, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, Ruth Usoro, Chioma Onyekwere, Godson Brume, Udodi Onwuzurike, Samuel Ogazi, and experienced Patience Okon-George will be the main attractions at the trials.
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