Blessing Okagbare tops the list of 35 athletes unveiled by the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) for next month’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games after the National Athletics trials in Sapele, Delta State.
The reigning Commonwealth double sprints queen and former African 100m record holder will compete in the 100m, 200m and long jump events.
Okagbare will be gunning for her second Olympic medal in Rio after jumping to a bronze medal finish in her debut in 2008 in Beijing.
She will also be hoping to atone for her misadventure to Beijing last year at the IAAF Worlds where she failed to fulfil expectations by finishing last in the 100m final, failing to come out for the 200m and subsequently getting unselectable for the 4x100m relay.
Okagbare will be joined by Gloria Asunmnu and Peace Uko in the 100m and 4x100m while Patience Okon-George, semi-finalist in Beijing last year at the IAAF Worlds, will lead the duo of Margaret Bamgbose and Omolara Omotosho in the 400m.
Ese Brume who leapt to a personal best-setting 6.83m leap in Akure at the final of the AFN Golden League last month will be hoping to use the biggest athletics stage to proof her incredible jump in Akure was not aided by dubious AFN officials.
Also on the list is shot putter Nwanneka Okwelogu who won the national title in Sapele and holds a personal season’s best of 17.91m while Chinwe Okoro who set a new 61.58m national record in the discus event in April this year will also be on the train to Rio.
Heptathlete and Pharmacy graduate Uhunoma Osazuwa will get the chance to compete in her second Olympics, although she is yet to make the 6,200 points Olympics qualification standard.
Osazuwa, who set a new national record of 6,153 points in Durban, South Africa at the 20th African Athletics Championships last month, will be hoping she completes all seven events of the heptathlon this time after failing to finish four years ago in London.
Sprint hurdler Oluwatobiloba Amusa who had a phenomenal collegiate season in the USA will be making a debut at the Games albeit she also was absent at the trials.
Amusan rewrote the IAAF World Junior list of all-time top performers when she ran 12.83 seconds at the University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) invitational meeting in April but the time was not considered a world record because organisers of the event failed to organise a post-race doping control.
Nigeria’s reigning fastest man Seye Ogunlewe will the lead 10 other men to the Games.
Ogunlewe whose 10.12 seconds title-winning run in Sapele at the weekend at the Nigeria Olympic trials ensured his passage to Rio will compete in two events viz the 100m and the 4x100m.
He will be joined by reigning African triple jump king Tosin Oke who made it to the final of the event in Beijing last year at the IAAF flagship event,the World Athletics Championships.
Oke who did not come for the trials in Sapele is one of only two Nigerian athletes with a 50-50 chance of making the final in Rio.He holds a personal season’s best of 17.13m which he jumped to win his third African Championships title in Durban late last month.
Also in is shot putter Stephen Mozia whose 20.73m effort last May at the Kentucky Relays in Lexington, USA rewrote the 20.18m record he set on April 18 last year will be competing in his first Olympics.
The athletics programme at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games runs from 12-21 August.