Reigning World U20 400m champion, Imaobong Nse Uko has been a tough draw as she gets set to make her World Athletics debut Sunday in Eugene, Oregon, United States of America.
The 18 year old who helped the Nigerian 4x400m mixed relay team to a sixth place finish in the final on the opening day of the World Athletics Championships has been drawn in heat four of the 400m first round.
The former Nigeria quartermile queen will run from lane eight in a heat that has the fastest 400m runner in the world this year, Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic and Nigeria-born Irish girl, Rashidat Adeleke who will run from lane one.
Nse Uko will be seeking to be either among the first three automatic qualifiers from the heat or run fast enough to be among the fastest non-automatic qualifiers.
The Nigerian holds a 51.24 seconds personal best which she achieved this year and which ranks her the fourth fastest in the line up behind Paulino (49.49), Lynna Irby of the USA (50.67) and Adeleke (50.70).
Nse Uko will first be seeking a semifinal spot before setting her sight on becoming the first Nigerian woman to run in the final of the event since 2001 when Falilat Ogunkoya ran in her forth straight final albeit she failed to finish at the Commonwealth stadium in Edmonton.
The Akwa Ibom-born Nse Uko will also be seeking to become the second Nigerian woman to graduate from a world U20 champion to the final of the 400m at the senior level after Fatimah Yusuf who won the U20 title in 1990 and made the final as a senior in 1995.