World women’s 100m hurdles champion and record holder Tobi Amusan was conspicuously missing from Team Nigeria’s list of 26 athletes to the World Athletics Championships, which was released by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria on Tuesday.
The list has 11 male and 15 female athletes for the championships, which holds from August 19 to 27 in Budapest, Hungary.
Silver medallist at last year’s championships Ese Brume will hope to upgrade to a gold in Budapest. She will be joined in the long jump event by Ruth Usoro. Sade Olatoye (Hammer) and Chioma Onyekwere (Discuss) are also among the prominent females on the AFN list.
National champion Usheoritshe Itshekiri, Favour Ashe, Seye Ogunlewe, Alaba Akintola, Fakorede Adekalu and Anunagba Karlington will be spread across the men’s 100m and 4x100m relay races, just as Rosemary Chukwuma, Favour Ofili, Faith Okwose, Justina Eyakpobeyan and Success Umukoro will compete in the women’s 100m and 4x100m event.
While the list has a lot of medal hopefuls for Nigeria, the AFN is still in a nervous wait over Amusan’s fate.
The hurdler’s participation at the championship has been uncertain after she was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit for missing three drug tests this season, one month to the championships.
While the AIU also stated that there would be a hearing on her case before the World Championships, she also vowed to fight the charges and prove her innocence, but nothing has been heard about the proceedings, with just 10 days to this year’s championships.
Technical Director of the AFN Samuel Onikeku told The PUNCH that it was only the AIU who could give an update about Amusan.
“We have perfected the list and it has been released. But unfortunately, it is the AIU who can comment on Amusan’s case,” Onikeku told our correspondent.
However, sources at the AFN said Amusan’s name was included on the list sent to the World Athletics with the hope that the hurdler would be cleared to compete before the start of the championships.
“She is on the entry list sent to the World Athletics; they cannot remove it because AIU has not taken a decision on her. If they remove it now and they say she is free to compete, she might not be able to go again, so the best way is to leave her name there. If they say she is free to compete, fine, if she is not free to compete, they can remove it. But in the meantime, her name is on the entry list submitted to the World Athletics,” our source said.
The Nigerian made history at the championships last year in Oregon, USA, racing to a new world record time of 12.12secs in the semi-finals, before running 12.06secs in the final to clinch the gold medal and become Nigeria’s first ever world champion and record holder in athletics.
Before her suspension, the 26-year-old had been in fine form, running a new season’s best of 12.34secs at the Silesia Diamond League meeting in Poland to win her second consecutive race of the season in July, while she also won at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold in Hungary same month.