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Nigerian athletes qualify for World Athletics Championships after France withdraws

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The Nigerian women’s 4x100m relay team will compete at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA after France’s withdrawal due to its failure to name a team for the event.

The French Athletics Association on Thursday, June 30 unveiled its list of athletes for the championships without including its women’s 4x100m relay team while six athletes namely Amandine Brossier, Shana Grebo, Diana Iscaye, Sokhna Lacoste, Sounkamba Sylla and Marjorie Veyssiere were named in the 4x400m team.

Although no official reason was given by the French Athletic Association, checks revealed that the French cannot present a good team for the event as their highest ranked sprinter is Mallory Leconte who is rated 148th in the world this year with an 11.33 seconds personal season’s best.

The other sprinters are ranked between 295 (Chloe Galet, 11.48 and Leelou Martial-Ehoulet, 11.48) and 421 (Serena Kouassi, 11.57).

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France is one of the 10 countries which secured qualification for the 4x100m relay event at the 2021 World Relays in Poland.

Nigeria was not at the competition and had to compete for the remaining four spots on offer. Led by Blessing Okagbare, Nigeria secured her spot at the Tokyo Olympics following the relay team’s 42.97 seconds run at the Olympic Trials and Invitational Relays held in June 2021 in Lagos.

The result was within the qualification period for the Oregon 2022 World Championships and the Nigerian team believed they could qualify as the 16th nation but on Monday June 27, 2022 the Athletics Integrity Unit announced a further one year ban on Okagbare, 33.

She was accused evading sample collection, and tampering or attempted tampering with the doping control process.

The significant consequence of the one year ban was that Nigeria lost its qualification place for the women’s 4x100m relay.

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This was because six days after Okagbare evaded sample collection (13 June 2021), she competed in the 4x100m relay event at the Nigeria Olympic Trials, with her relay squad qualifying for this year’s World Championships.

All individual and relay results involving Okagbare, from 13 June 2021, are now disqualified under the rules.

But with France’s decision not to name a women’s 4x100m relay team for the championships, Nigeria will move up from her 17th spot to 16, the final qualification spot and play in the tournament.

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