Reigning African Games 100m champion, Raymond Ekevwo and reigning World U20 Athletics Championships 200m king Udodi Onwuzurike will be among six top ranked athletes that will be seeking for their first national team at the 2022 Nigerian Athletics Championships which start Friday in Benin.
Ekevwo and Onwuzurike will be going head-to-head in the 100m event with the latter on top of the Nigerian 100m list with the 10.03 seconds he ran early this month.
Onwuzurike will be participating in his first National Championships and will also be gunning for the 200m title where he stands as the overwhelming favourite.
Also aiming for their first title are sprinters Favour Ashe, Alaba Akintola and Rosemary Chukwuma.
Ashe holds a personal season’s best of 10.04s in the 100m and won a silver medal in the event at the 2022 NCAA outdoor championships early this month in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Akintola, the reigning National Sports Festival 200m champion will also be bidding for this first title in the history of the Nigerian championships.
Like Ashe and Ekevwo, Akintola also holds a personal season’s best of 10.04 seconds achieved this year.
Chukwuma, the African Youth Games and African U20 double sprint champion is also seeking her first national title in the sprint event.
With the confirmed absence of Favour Ofili, Chukwuma will have Tokyo Olympics semifinalist, Grace Nwokocha to compete with in both the 100m and 200m events.
Nwokocha is the defending champion in the half lap race.
Also waiting to mount the podium as national champion is 400m barrier runner, Ezekiel Nathaniel who has surprised with his geometrical rise to international recognition.
Nathaniel ran 48.42 seconds last month to break Henry Amike’s 35 year old record in the 400m hurdles and the athlete who turned 19 on Tuesday is waiting to be crowned Nigerian champion for the first time.
Home girl Tima Godbless will also be dreaming of upstaging the USA-based duo of Chukwuma and Nwokocha after improving from 11.48 achieved last year to 11.25 in the 100m event at the 22nd African Athletics Championships which ended in Mauritius about a week ago.
The 2022 Nigerian Athletics Championships will run from June 24 to 26 at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium in Benin City, capital city of Edo state.
The championships will serve as selection trials for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA next month and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.