Reigning Nigeria’s King of speed Enoch Adegoke has joined the exclusive club of sub-10 seconds runners after racing home first in 9.98 seconds in his first-round heat to qualify for the 100m semifinal at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
Adegoke, who ran 10.00 seconds last month to win the Nigeria 100m title, was under pressure to match the impressive performance of Grace Nwokocha in the women’s 100m after both dominated the Nigerian local athletics circuit like never before.
The 21- year- old Adegoke lived up to expectations, beating in the process the fastest man in the world this year and seventh fastest of all-time, USA’s Trayvon Brommel who tops the pre-Games world list with the 9.77 seconds he ran last month in Florida, USA.
Also through to the semifinal is Ushoritse Itshekiri who placed third in his first-round heat while Nigeria’s third entrant in the event, Divine Oduduru was disqualified for false starting.
Adegoke has been drawn against the same athletes he defeated, Brommel, Nigeria-born Qatari, Femi Ogunode and Britain’s Zhana Hughes in the second semifinal heat while Itshekiri will run in the first semifinal and has been drawn against four sprinters who have ducked inside 10 seconds this season led by Canadian, Andre De Grasse.
Both Nigerians will be looking to become the next duo that will make the final of the event at the games after Davidson Ezinwa and Olapade Adeniken did in the 1990s.
Meanwhile, Nwokocha failed to advance to the women’s 100m final after finishing fifth in her semifinal heat with another sub- 11.10 seconds performance, the second in two days.
The 20- year-old performance has been remarkable after becoming the fastest Nigeria-based athlete since Mercy Nku ran 11.04 seconds in 1997 in Benin City.
In the 100m hurdles, Tobi Amusan ran 12.72 seconds to win her first-round heat and keep her hope of becoming the second Nigerian to win a sprint hurdles medal at the Olympics after Glory Alozie won a silver medal in Sydney in 2000.