Tag Archives: Imaobong Nse Uko

From Nairobi to Cali: the teenage talents who could defend their world U20 titles in 2022

One silver lining of the postponed World U20 Championships in Nairobi last year is that there is just a one-year wait between that edition and the next one.

It means it’s slightly more likely that the medallists in 2021 will be able to compete for podium places again at the World Athletics U20 Championships Cali 22 on 1-6 August.

Of the 40 individual winners in Nairobi, 16 will be eligible to compete in Cali. Here’s a closer look at those talented teenagers.

Purity Chepkirui – Kenya, 1500m

Chepkirui was one of Kenya’s eight gold medallists in Nairobi. She beat Ethiopia’s Diribe Welteji, the 2018 world U20 800m champion and sub-four-minute 1500m runner, to take gold over 1500m in 4:16.07.

Jackline Chepkoech – Kenya, steeplechase

The 18-year-old narrowly missed out on making Kenya’s Olympic team, but then turned her focus to the World U20 Championships. She went on to strike gold in a PB of 9:27.40, beating Ethiopian Olympian Zerfe Wondemagegn by eight seconds. Chepkoech’s teammate Faith Cherotich, who took bronze in Nairobi, will also be young enough to compete in Cali.

Tina Clayton – Jamaica, 100m

One of the youngest winners in Nairobi, Clayton claimed 100m gold in 11.09 and then formed part of Jamaica’s triumphant 4x100m team, setting a world U20 record of 42.94. Her twin sister Tia was also part of the relay quartet and, of course, will be able to compete in Cali later this year.

Mine de Klerk – South Africa, shot put

Another double medallist in Nairobi, De Klerk won the shot put title with 17.40m, having also taken silver in the discus with a PB of 53.50m. In the Colombian capital later this year, she’ll have the opportunity to retain her shot put title and upgrade her discus silver to gold.

Benson Kiplangat – Kenya, 5000m

A relative newcomer, Kiplangat defied the altitude of Nairobi to win 5000m gold in a PB of 13:20.37. In doing so, he held off a strong challenge from Ethiopia’s Tadese Worku, who had won 3000m gold earlier in the championships.


Erwan Konate – France, long jump

Having taken bronze at the European U20 Championships in Tallinn in mid-July, Konate uncorked the performance of his life to win long jump gold in Nairobi. The 18-year-old, who started the year with a PB of 7.30m, produced jumps of 7.98m, 8.00m and 8.12m in the final three rounds of the competition to secure the title.


Christine Mboma – Namibia, 200m

One of the revelations of 2021, Mboma took Olympic silver in Tokyo before landing the world U20 title in Nairobi in a championship record of 21.84 – one of five sub-22-second performances she achieved in 2021. Her time in Tokyo, 21.81, was recently ratified as a world U20 record and she will have the opportunity to improve on that in 2022, her final year as an U20 athlete.


Udodi Onwuzurike – Nigeria, 200m

US-based Nigerian sprinter Onwuzurike enjoyed the competition of his life in Nairobi last year. He smashed his 200m PB in the heats with 20.47, ran a wind-assisted 20.13 to win his semifinal, then took gold in the final with a PB of 20.21. He also featured on the Nigerian 4x100m squad which failed to get the baton around, but he and his teammates can aim to make amends in Cali later this year.


Heidi Salminen – Finland, 400m hurdles

Salminen, aged 17 at the time, headed to Nairobi off the back of a disappointing performance at the European U20 Championships in Tallinn, where she finished last in her 400m hurdles semifinal in 60.30. Having never broken 59 seconds before, she set a PB of 58.12 to win her heat and then smashed that three days later to win gold in 56.94.


Letsile Tebogo – Botswana, 100m

One of three titles won by Botswana in Nairobi, the men’s 100m went to Letsile Tebogo. The 18-year-old set a PB of 10.22 in the heats, then broke the senior national record in the semifinals with 10.11. Running into a minor headwind, he secured gold in the final in 10.19. He took silver in the 200m two days later, so will be keen to win a sprint double in Cali.


Imaobong Nse Uko – Nigeria, 400m

The prodigious Uko, who ran 52.36 at age 14 back in 2018, won three gold medals in Nairobi. The 17-year-old set a lifetime best of 51.55 to win the one-lap sprint title. One day later, she contributed to Nigeria’s triumph in the women’s 4x400m, having also formed part of the winning mixed 4x400m team earlier in the championships. All three medallists in the women’s 400m in Nairobi will be young enough to clash again in Cali this year.


Saga Vanninen – Finland, heptathlon

Finnish heptathlete Vanninen was one of a small handful of athletes to win gold at the European U20 Championships and World U20 Championships. The 18-year-old set PBs in the 200m (24.83) and javelin (49.22) en route to her 5997 overall victory, winning by 251 points.


Adriana Vilagos – Serbia, javelin

Another 17-year-old winner, Vilagos warmed up for Nairobi by setting a world U18 best of 70.10m with the 500g implement. Competing with the standard senior implement in the Kenyan capital, her opening effort of 61.46m added more than a metre to her PB and stood as the best mark of the competition. One month later, she improved her best to 62.36m in Zagreb.


Matvey Volkov – Belarus, pole vault

The prodigious pole vaulter, who set a world U18 best during the indoor season, enjoyed a successful outdoor campaign. After taking silver at the European U20 Championships, he went one better in Nairobi and struck gold with 5.45m.


Emmanuel Wanyonyi – Kenya, 800m

Three weeks after turning 17, Wanyonyi scorched to victory over two laps of the track in 1:43.76. Not only did he break the championship record, he also set a Kenyan U18 best.


Heristone Wanyonyi – Kenya, 10,000m race walk

No relation to the 800m winner, Wanyonyi produced one of the biggest surprises of the championships to win Kenya’s first global race walking title. He took the 10,000m race walk crown in a PB of 42:10.84, and the fact he excels in altitude should stand him in good stead in Cali later this year.


Beatrice Masilingi goes for 100m gold in Nairobi

Namibia’s Beatrice Masilingi goes into Thursday’s women’s 100m final at the World Athletics Under-20s Championships in Nairobi as one of the favourites to win the title.

The 18-year-old, who was sixth in the Olympic 200m final, finished first in her 100m semi-final in Nairobi having earlier claimed a personal best time of 11.20 seconds in the heats.

“It’s crazy because just the other day I was competing with the world’s best athletes at the Olympics,” Masilingi told BBC Sport Africa.

“I would say I got a lot of experience there and more – and I think I can use all that Olympics experience here at the junior Championships, so I am here to show what I have got.”

Masilingi is blocked from running distances between her favoured 400m and one mile under World Athletics rules because her testosterone levels are beyond the allowed limit for female athletes to compete over that distance, unless she medically lowers her testosterone for a period of at least six months.

It is the same case for her compatriot Christine Mboma who features in the women’s 200m in Nairobi having picked up an Olympic silver medal in Tokyo.

Masilingi said the World U20 Championships were always her target this year.

“I didn’t really plan to take part in the Olympics – I was planning for the junior Championships, I mean as a junior, this is the biggest stage for us and this is every young athlete’s dream to show your skills – I really respect the World juniors.

“First of all it’s the love I have for athletics, so being here and competing here with the other athletes is so much fun – it’s really great and I am loving the experience so very much.

“I have been running my best times in Africa and winning the World junior title will be a bonus. I am really looking forward to running in the final,” Masilingi added.


All three gold medals that were on offer on day one of the World U20 Athletics Championships in the Kenyan capital went to Africa.

There was a one-two finish for Ethiopia in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase with Tadese Worku winning gold and compatriot Ali Abdilmana taking silver while Eritrea’s Samuel Habtom won bronze.

“This is a very good start for me – I get a lot of confidence from this win because it predicts my future,” Worku told BBC Sport Africa.

“Many of my friends like [Selemon] Barega, [Kenenisa] Bekele and Haile [Gebrselassie] have brought so much pride to Ethiopia and winning here means I am next in line following in their footsteps – I am very happy to know that my future is bright,” Worku added.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, South Africa’s Mire Reinstorf won gold in the women’s pole vault and Nigeria won gold in the 4x400m mixed relay with their quartet of Johnson Nnamani, Imaobong Nse Uko, Opeyemi Deborah Oke and Bamidele Ajayi setting a new championship record of 3 minutes 19.70 seconds.

The championships in Nairobi, which started a day later than scheduled because of the challenge that Covid has had on travel, finish on Sunday 22 August.


Three U.S.-based athletes in Nigeria’s junior squad to World Championship

Three U.S.-based junior athletes have been listed in Team Nigeria’s squad to the World Athletics U-20 Championships holding in Nairobi, Kenya from August 17 to 22.

In the 27-man list released by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) yesterday are U.S.-based trio of Favour Ofili (Louisiana), Best Erhire (Tennessee), and Udodi Onwuzurike (Michigan).

Ofili is expected to compete in four events, which include women’s 100m, 200m, 4x100m, and 4x400m relay. Other athletes in 100m and 4x100m relay include Praise Ofoku, Olayinka Sholademi Olajide, Chukwuma Obi, Tima Godbless, and Anita Taviore.

Nigeria’s flag bearers in the men’s 100m and 4x100m relay are Favour Oghenetejiri Ashe, Godson Brume, Fakorede Adekalu, Mabilo Nicholas, Udodi Onwuzurike and Kingsley Unorji.

Tina Godbless and Ofili will compete in the women’s 200m, while Adekalu Nicholas Fakorede and Udodi Onwuzurike are the athletes for the 200m.

One of Nigeria’s brightest stars in the junior category, Imaobong Nse Uko, is leading the women’s 400m and 4x400m relay. Others in the relay team are Opeyemi Oke, Ada Bright, Osaretin Joy, and Ofili.

The duo of Bamidele Ajayi and Johnson Chidera will compete in the men’s 400m event.

Ekporere Prosper Oghenemine is Nigeria’s sole representative in the men’s 110m hurdles, just as Sarah Ochigbo will run in the women’s 400m hurdles.

Others on the list are Nathaniel Ezekiel (men’s 400m hurdles), Ruth Agadama (women’s long jump), Esther Osisike (women’s discus), Omamuyovwi Best Erhire and Aya David (men’s high jump) and Nnamdi Chinecherem (men’s javelin).

Bamidele Ajayi, Salubi Emmanuel, Imaobong Nse Uko, Opeyemi Oke, Ella Onojuvwevwo, and Chidera Johnson are listed for the 4x400m mixed relay event.

Team Nigeria’s athletes have been in camp in Asaba, Delta State since July 23, where they took part in an open trial on July 29. The final squad was selected on Tuesday.

Host country, Kenya, will field 44 athletes for the competition, just as India has named 28 athletes. Botswana is sending an 18-member squad for the junior championship.

Over 1,300 athletes from 128 countries are expected to compete in the Championships, where top Nigerian athletes like Deji Aliu were discovered.

Aliu, who rose to become one of Nigeria’s greatest athletes, started his junior career at the World Junior Championships in South Korea in 1992, where he picked a bronze medal in the 4×100m. In 1994, Deji Aliu competed in his second World Junior Championships in Portugal, where he won gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m.

The AFN said yesterday it is sure of achieving good results in Nairobi.

Source: guardian.ng