The African Record in the women’s 4x100m event has finally been broken after three decades.
The record was broken by the quartet of Joy Udo-Gabriel, Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma and Grace Nwokocha who ran the race of their lives early Sunday morning in the final of the women’s 4x100m event at the ongoing World Championships in Oregon.
They posted a time of 42.22s to break the long-standing 42.39s National/African Record set by their compatriots, Christy Opara-Thompson, Faith Idehen, Beatrice Utondu and Mary Onyali, at the Barcelona 92 Olympics where Nigeria ended with a bronze medal.
Udo-Gabriel, whose inclusion in the team was questioned by some critics, shut her critics up for the umpteenth time with a well-executed first leg race before handing over to Ofili who sustained the momentum.
Then it was the turn of Chukwuma for the third leg and she did well before handing over to Nwokocha who finished off brilliantly.
Unfortunately, despite their record-breaking race, the Nigerian ladies still did not make it to the podium as they finished fourth behind the United States who won with a fast time of 41.14s.
Jamaica and Germany finished second and third respectively.
Sunday was the first time in 11 years that the Nigeria women’s relay team participated in the final of the World Championships.
Incidentally, Nigeria had originally lost out on competing in the women’s relay events in Oregon before they literally sneaked in.
New doping infractions established against Blessing Okagbare knocked Nigeria off the last qualification spot they were occupying on the eve of the closure for qualifying entries for Oregon.
Okagbare and three others ran a time of 42.97s at the Yabatech Sports Complex, Lagos and that had kept them in the last qualification spot up until the unfortunate development.
However, one of the sixteen teams that had qualified ahead of Nigeria, France, eventually pulled out to make a way for Nigeria to not just come on board but to set a new African record.
Even though the medal did not come in Oregon, the relatively young Nigerian women’s relay team would be hoping to get it right at the Commonwealth Games starting this week in Birmingham and subsequent global meets; especially at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.