No fewer than three Nigerian athletes made it through to the semifinals of the women’s 400m, on Day 3 of the ongoing IAAF World Championships in London.
National Silver medallist, Yinka Ajayi was the first to lead the pack for the Nigerian team, when she competed in Heat 2 of the event, during the morning session.
Ajayi, held her own against a respectable field that included Olympic Champion, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who was un-matchable from the start racing to victory in 50.97s. Jamaica’s Stephanie Ann-Mcpherson, followed behind in 51.27s, with the Nigerian getting the last automatic qualifying spot in 51.58s.
This is an impressive performance from the 21-year old, considering it’s her first senior world championship outing for the country, and an improvement on her Personal Best (PB) of 51.30s, may just be enough to see her compete in the final come Wednesday evening.
National Champion, Patience Okon-George was next to don the colours of the country and also ensured a semifinal spot. Running on lane 8, Okon-George didn’t let this slow her down, taking all strides possible as she sped across the finish line to place 2nd in 51.83s behind American Quanera Hayes, who clocked 51.43s.
Okon-George who was a semifinalist in Beijing two years ago, will be gunning for her first individual world championships final when she competes on Monday evening, and an improvement on her Season’s Best (SB) of 51.06s.
Inspired by her compatriots’ performance, Margaret Bamgbose was the final athlete to guarantee that all three Nigerian quartermilers entered will compete in the semifinal rounds. Bamgbose, equalled her SB of 51.57s to finish 3rd behind Jamaica’s Chrisann Gordon and Botswana’s Amantle Montsho.
The Nigerian trio has done really well to qualify through to the next round, and a better performance from either of them, will be giant steps from what was achieved two years ago. Also, it creates a mouth-watering expectation on how lethal the country’s 4x400m relay team will be, when they finally come together later in the week.