If the qualification window for the Tokyo Olympics were to be shut today, Nigeria will have the women’s 4x100m relay team battling for one of the three medals on offer at the Games.x
This followed the official release Monday of the qualification ranking of countries bidding to qualify for the Olympics by World Athletics after the end of the two-day World Relays in Poland.
The first eight places in each relay event for the Olympics were awarded to the top-eight teams at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.
In cases where those teams have also qualified among the top-eight in Poland, the remaining quota places for Tokyo (16 per event) will be allocated according to the World Athletics top performance lists as of 29 June 2021.
In the women’s 4x100m event, only two slots are available after the conclusion of the World Relays and Brazil (15) and Nigeria (16) currently occupy those two positions based on World Athletics top list of performances drawn from May 2019 to Monday, May 3rd, 2021.
What this means is that the Nigerian team only needs to compete in more relay events, run faster than the 43.05 seconds achieved in Doha in 2019, and stay ahead of some of its major competitors which include Australia (17), Kazakhstan (18), Canada (19), and Ghana (20).x
The women’s 4x400m team also has a great chance of qualifying based on the ranking and the quality of the nations who occupy the remaining four slots available for grabs after the World Relays.
The team is ranked the 17th best behind Australia in 13th (3:28.64), Switzerland in 14th (3:29.15), India in 15th (3:29.42), and Dominican Republic in 16th (3:30.02), but athletics watchers believe Nigeria, with the full complement of their teams, can run at least 3:26.00 to move into 13th and qualify.
This permutation would have been needless if the Athletics Federation of Nigeria had not used sentiment to pick the team to the World Championship in Doha.
It would be recalled that athletes who placed seventh and eighth at the National Trials in Kaduna were preferred to those who placed third and fourth, a decision that ultimately weakened the team that ended up running an unimpressive 3:35.90 in the heat and thus could not make it to the final.
For the men’s 4x100m, the task will be a little tougher as they are presently ranked 17th best with the 38.59 seconds the team ran at the African Games in Rabat, Morocco in July 2019.
There are also four slots available after the Poland event with Canada (37.91), Jamaica (38.15), Trinidad and Tobago (38.46), and Turkey (38.47) provisionally through to Japan.x
The Divine Oduduru-led team will have to at least run faster than the 37.91 seconds Canada ran in Doha, which will be a new national record, to stand a good chance of making it to Tokyo before thinking about winning Nigeria’s third relay medal in the event at the Games.
For the men’s 4x400m team, the task looks insurmountable as they will have to break the 3:03.00 seconds barrier for the first time since they ran 3:02.39 to win the gold medal at the 2012 African Championships in Port Novo, Benin Republic to qualify.
With Mexico, the 16th team on the list provisionally through via their 3:02.89 run in Italy in July 2019, the Nigerian team knows anything short of a sub 3:03.00 seconds will mean waving bye to the Games.
The Mixed Relay is still an uncharted territory for Nigeria as the country does not have a performance to benchmark its strength but for the purpose of going to Tokyo, the team will have to break 3:16.00 seconds to stand a chance of qualifying.
There are three slots presently available with Ukraine (3:16.65), Canada (3:16.76) and Germany (3:16.85) provisionally through to Tokyo.x