Nigerian athletics enthusiasts were left fuming, after the country’s 4x400m women relay team at the IAAF World Championships failed to win a medal even when they were presented the opportunity, by their Jamaican counterparts who suffered a misfortune in the final of the event on Sunday.
Nigeria for the second time in a row, returned from the IAAF World Championships without a medal. The team in the semi-finals, warmed up to a good performance with 3.25.40seconds, which was a season’s best for the quartet.
However, the team posted 3.26.72 seconds to place fifth in the final. Statistically, the time they returned in the semi-final was good enough even for a silver. USA won with 3.19.02 seconds a world leading time, Great Britain was second with 3.25.00, while Poland nicked the bronze in 3.25.41 seconds.
The coaches decided to change the team, by replacing Emerald Egwim with Abike Egbeniyi who was delayed in Nigeria due to visa problems.
She joined the team on Saturday night and it turned out to be a gamble that backfired. Coach Gabriel Okon explains: “Margaret Bamgbose had some issues that’s why she couldn’t run. We changed Egwin because she had the slowest time in the semi-final. I admit Abike was tired from the trip. “Under the circumstances we faced we couldn’t have done any better. The girls should have been in London on time well rested for the championships.”
Former Nigerian quarter-mile runner Fatimat Yusuf Olukojo stated that the coaches got it wrong with their decision to substitute Egwim with Abike. “Fresh leg” that arrived 24 hours? And who has been on her own worrying about visa to London and no adequate training the past few weeks? “Why fix something that is not broken.
The decision to change the team denied the ladies a bronze medal. Former triple jumper Olu Sule added: “The fresh leg should have been a 49s runner, which we don’t have. Why take a slower runner coming to the world stage for the first time?”