Nine home-based stars set for Bahamas 2024 World Relays

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NEWISSUES DAILY
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The World Relays in Bahamas presents Team Nigeria another opportunity to qualify its relay teams for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) is not leaving anything to chance.

The competition will hold on May 4 and 5 in Bahamas with the best 14 teams in all the events qualifying for the Olympic Games scheduled for Paris in July and August.

AFN officials are said to be running against time to secure U.S. visas for the nine home-based athletes billed for the competition. The athletes will converge on the American Embassy in Abuja this morning for their visa interview, and if successful, they are expected to jet out on May 1 to the Caribbean Island nation, where they will join some U.S.-based Nigerian athletes for the relay battle.

None of Nigeria’s relay teams (men and women) has qualified for the Paris Olympics, and the AFN is hoping to use the event in Bahamas to secure the tickets to avoid last minute rush, which could cost the nation more money and also affect the morale of the athletes.

Team Nigeria will compete for all the five relay tickets in Bahamas. They are men and women 4x100m, men and women 4x400m, and the mixed 4x400m.However, there seems to be apprehension in some quarters that some key U.S.-based Nigerian athletes may not be able to make the trip to the Bahamas due to expiration of their travelling documents.

They include two of the nation’s most improved sprinters this year, Favour Ashe and Godson Brume. While Ashe posted a season best of 9.96 seconds at the Tiger Track Classic on April 20, Brume ran a Lifetime’s Best of 10.04seconds last week at a meet in the United States.

Some AFN officials are said to be trading blames on why the travelling documents of such key athletes would expire in an Olympics year without the secretariat being proactive about it.

In the absence of Ashe and Brume, Team Nigeria will rely on the likes of Udodi Onwuzurike, who posted 20.13 seconds at the PURE Athletics Spring Invitational Men’s 200m dash at the weekend. There is also Seyi Ogunlewe and Alaba Akintola waiting to join the home-based stars at the World Relays.

Meanwhile, some top officials of the AFN were said to have approached the president, Tonobok Okowa, to loan the federation an undisclosed amount of money to bail the team out for Nigeria to attend the World Relays in the Bahamas.

According to the source, about N70 million has been approved for the trip to Bahamas, but the AFN is yet to access the funds, prompting the board to go cap in hand to Okowa for the bail out. It was not clear, as at yesterday, the number of officials that will accompany the nine home-based athletes to the Bahamas.

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