London 2017: Confusion hits Team Nigeria

The Nigerian delegation to the  London  2017 World Athletics Championships were  allegedly thrown into confusion   on Wednesday  after the British High Commission  denied Abike Egbeniyi an entry visa to the United Kingdom.

United States-based Egbeniyi, who  qualified for the women’s 400m at the national trials in Abuja with a time of 52.10secs, is expected to miss out on  the 4x400m relay  after   missing  the 4oom race.

According to sources, the Team Nigeria officials have been forced  to draft Glory  Nathaniel, who crashed out in the semifinal of the  400m hurdles on Tuesday, into the 4x400m team, as Nigeria are only left with Margaret Bamgbose, Patience Okon-George and Yinka Ajayi, who lost in the 400m semis on Monday. The 4x400m relay begins on Saturday.

Egbeniyi told our correspondent in Lagos on Wednesday  that she was saddened by her  failure to secure a  visa to the UK  to compete at the worlds.

The 22-year-old  said, “It is very frustrating that I am still in Nigeria when the event (400m) qualified for has been concluded. The  embassy has not notified us of the date to pick up our passports. It will be very painful if I miss out on the World Championships totally.

“I am only hoping now that the visa will be ready so that I can join the team for the relays.”

Spokesman for the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, Dare Esan, who confirmed the development, cast doubt over  Egbeniyi’s participation in the London competition.

The ace  athletics writer said, “For now, no one can say when she (Egbeniyi) will travel to join the competition. The embassy has yet to issue her a  visa. The  three journalists who are supposed to cover the competition have not also been granted visas.

“We  have been waiting to hear from them and nothing has happened as of today (Wednesday). If we can’t get anything positive, she and the  journalists will  not be able to go to London.

“It is really not encouraging but we still have to wait for their notification for the people concerned to come and pick up their passports.”

Esan added, “But I can assure you that her absence will not affect Nigeria in the relays as we have some athletes who can complete the team. Apart from Bamgbose,  Okon-George and Ajayi, who ran in the individual race, we have Emerald Egwim, who has been cleared by the IAAF to compete for Nigeria and Glory Nathaniel, the 400m hurdler, to complete the team.”

Nigerian athletes faced visa challenges,  which resulted in some members of the team arriving late in London for the competition.