The 19th edition of the African Athletics Championships begins in Marrakech, Morocco on Sunday with the track and field team of the defending Champion, Team Nigeria, confident of retaining the title it won in Benin Republic two years ago.
Fresh from Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, where the team won three gold medals, three silver medals and many athletes made it to the finals, the team hopes to build on those performances in Marrakech.
Led by technical coordinator, Yussuf Alli, it had its first training session on Friday at the venue of the championships, Great Stadium of Marrakech, a few minutes’ drive from the team’s hotel, Golden Tulip, Rawabi.
The team’s second training session took place on Saturday with athletes and officials confident of winning the championships.
Team Nigeria’s medal hunt begins Sunday morning with the first round of the men and women’s 100m.
Golden girl, Blessing Okagbare, Gloria Asumnun, and Lauretta Uzoh are expected to compete with Africa’s best for a place in the semi-finals. In the men’s event, Mark Jelkis, Mozavous Edwards and Ogho-Oghene Egwero will represent Nigeria.
In the afternoon, there is the men 400m hurdles where Ameachi Morton and Miles Ukaoma will fly Nigeria’s flag. Samson Idiata and Hammed Suleiman will compete in the qualifying rounds of the men long jump.
Team Nigeria can win a gold medal on the opening day if Stephen Mozia and Augustine Nwoye can overhaul a strong field of throwers from South Africa, Egypt, Algeria and the host in the men shot-put.
The early rounds of the 100m hurdles are also stated for Sunday. Queen Obisesan will compete in the finals of the women hammer event, also the finalists of the men and women 100m will emerge on Sunday.
Monday morning, the new queen of long jump in the Commonwealth, Ese Brume, and Amadi Chinazom will compete for a place in the final of women long jump slated for Tuesday.
Monday evening is loaded for Team Nigeria with finals of the 100m hurdles, finals of men and women 100m. The semi-final of the men and women 400m,long jump men final, 400m hurdles men semi-final and the first round of the men and women 100m relay.
Tuesday morning is a rest period for Team Nigeria, but in the evening there is the final of the women’s discuss, the first round of 110 hurdles, men and women 400m final.
Other events involving Team Nigeria are the finals of the men and women 4x100m relays and long jump women final.
The 200m men and women events begin on Wednesday morning. Golden girl, Okagbare, has opted out of the 200m. Asumnun, Regina George and Duncan will compete.
In the evening, there is the finals of the women 400m hurdles, triple jump men final , the semi-final of the 200m men and women, finals of the men 400m hurdles and 110m hurdles. The first round of the men and women 4x400m are also slated for Wednesday evening.
Thursday morning, the final day of the championships, is free for Team Nigeria, but they have a busy evening with the final of the women triple jump, women 400m hurdles, final of women shot-put, final of the men and women 200m, and 4x400m respectively.