The Nigerian women’s 4x100m relay quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma and Grace Nzubechi Nwokocha moved a step closer to making history as the first women’s relay team to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal after sealing a place in Sunday’s final at the ongoing 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Fresh from the team’s Nigeria and African record setting 42.22 seconds run in Oregon, USA at the World Athletics Championships last month, the quartet broke 43 seconds again, running 42.59 seconds to qualify for the final.
The time is the fastest in the semifinals ahead of England (42.72) who ran without 100m bronze medalist, Daryl Neita and Jamaica who won the other semifinal in 43.66 seconds without Tokyo Olympics double sprint champion Elaine Thompson-Herah.
The Nwokocha-led quartet will now be seeking to become the first Nigerian women’s relay team (4x100m and 4x400m) to win a Commonwealth Games title.
Nigeria has won silver (2014) and bronze (1990 and 2018) in the women’s 4x100m event in past editions and will feel it is time to move up to gold this time.
The Nigerians will hope to call on Tobi Amusan to run in one of the legs after the reigning world champion and record holder in the 100m hurdles must have successfully defended her Commonwealth Games sprint hurdles title about two and half hours earlier.
Meanwhile, former school boy international Seye Ogunlewe anchored Nigeria’s 4x100m relay team to its third straight final after winning the second semifinal heat in 38.85 seconds, the third fastest time in the event behind England who ran 38.48 seconds to win the first semifinal heat and Trinidad and Tobago (38.84) who came second behind the host.
The Nigerians will be seeking to learn from their predecessors who dropped the baton four years ago at the Gold Coast, Australia and subsequently got disqualified.