Nigeria men’s 4x100m relay team will need to run its fastest time in well over a decade to be able to secure automatic qualification for the final when the semifinal heats of the event take place early Saturday morning (Nigeria) in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
The Nigerians have been drawn against Team USA whose men dominated the individual 100m and 200m events, Germany who have broken 43 seconds (37.99) this year, 2017 World champion Great Britain (won silver in Doha three years ago), Japan, bronze medallist in the last two editions; China who have been in three staright finals since they won the silver on home soil in 2015 and West African neighbours, Ghana who have two athletes, Benjamin Azamati (9.90) and Joseph Paul Amoah (9.94) who have gone under 10 seconds this year.
Nigeria will be banking on the talent of Favour Ashe, the 20 year old University of Tenneessee freshman who ran 9.99 seconds last month to win his first Nigerian championships 100m title, Udodi Onwuzurike who holds a personal season’s best of 10.03 seconds and is the reigning World U20 champion over the 200m and Raymond Ekevwo, the 2019 African Games 100m king who has clocked 10.04 seconds this year.
Ashe and his teammates will be seeking to retun Nigeria first to the final of the event 15 years after the team led by Olusoji Fasuba (Obinna Metu, Chukwu Uche Isaac and Chinedu Oriala) ran all the way to the final but could not finish after dropping the baton.
Nigeria last made the podium in this event 25 years ago when the quartet of Osmond Ezinwa, Olapade Adeniken, Francis Obikwelu and Davidson Ezinwa ran 38.07 seconds to place second behind Canada. This was achieved after the set a then 37.94 seconds African record in the semifinal.