A month after the Olympics closing ceremony, 25 champions and 41 other medallists from the Tokyo Games are due to be in Zurich this week for the final of the 2021 Wanda Diamond League.
The 12th meeting of the summer series draws the finest athletes from around the globe to the Swiss city as they vie for the prestigious Diamond League trophy and the winner’s prize of $30,000 (£22,000).
Series winners will also receive a wildcard for next year’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon and the Zurich organisers have laid on a mouth-watering feast of athletics for both today’s events in the city centre and tomorrow’s inside the Letzigrund Stadium.
In the sprint showdowns, back-to-back Olympic 100m and 200m champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, is the star attraction in a tantalising women’s 100m race, after running a blistering 10.54 seconds in Eugene last month.
The Jamaican is now the second fastest woman of all time and she may face the third in Zurich, with her compatriot, and predecessor as Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce expected to compete.
Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who has run 10.78 this year, and British duo Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita are also on the provisional start list.
World 200m champion Asher-Smith, may choose to focus on the longer event, though, where she would face equally stiff opposition in Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, and Christine Mboma of Namibia.
Asher-Smith, 25, finished third in both Paris (100m) and Brussels (200m) recently after a rollercoaster Olympics, which she finished with bronze in the 4x100m relay after injury marred her individual events.
In the men’s sprints, Canada’s Olympic 200m champion Andre de Grasse and American 100m silver medallist Fred Kerley are named in both events.
It should come as no surprise that Norway’s Karsten Warholm will start the 400m hurdles as the overwhelming favourite.
After shattering the world record with a scintillating 45.94 to win gold in Tokyo, Warholm ran a modest 45.51 over the flat in Lausanne and will be eager to return to his best in front of a capacity crowd.
His compatriot Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 20, is listed for both the 1500m and 5,000m.
Should he compete in both, he would run in two different venues – with the latter one of seven titles up for grabs in the city centre on Wednesday, and the former one of 25 on offer in the stadium on Thursday.
The Olympic 1500m champion, who ran a Games-record three minutes 28.32 seconds to take gold, is the European record holder in both events, and his battle with Kenyan world champion Timothy Cheruiyot over the metric mile will be a particularly fascinating duel.
In the pole vault, Sweden’s Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis will be looking to add to his recent wins in Paris and Brussels as he faces American two-time world champion Sam Kendricks, who was forced to withdraw from Tokyo 2020 on the eve of the competition after a positive Covid-19 test.
Elsewhere, Kenyan 1500m Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon faces 5,000m and 10,000m gold medallist Sifan Hassan, American two-time Olympic champion Ryan Crouser takes an unbeaten record this season into the men’s shot put, and the women’s high jump features all three medallists – Authorised Neutral Athlete Mariya Lasitskene, Nicola McDermott of Australia and the Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh.
Reps Summon Dare Over Doping Crisis At Tokyo
The House of Representatives has begun investigation of the disqualification of Nigerian athletes at the 2020 Olympics over alleged doping, asking the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, to come and explain the preparedness of the Nigerian contingent for the sports festival.
Tidesports source gathered that the resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion at the plenary on Wednesday titled, ‘Need to Investigate Activities of the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development on Failed Doping Test by Nigeria Athletes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.’
Consequently, the House resolved to “invite the Minister of Sports and Youth Development (sic) to brief the Committee on Sports on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the independent anti-doping arm, Athletics Integrity Unit.”
The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to put necessary measures in place to ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions, while mandating the Committee on Sports to “investigate the immediate and remote cause of the failed doping test to forestall future occurrence.”
Moving the motion, Mr Babatunde Ayeni said the Nigerian delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating in the comity of nations.
Ayeni recalled the outstanding performance of the Nigerian Football Team which bagged the historic first soccer gold medal at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, United States of America.
The lawmaker lamented the incident of July 20, 2021, where the Athletics Integrity Unit of the International Association of Athletics Federations barred 10 Nigerian athletes, including the highly-rated Blessing Okagbare, from the Tokyo Olympics for failing to meet requirements for out-of-competition drug testing.
He recalled that the Athletics Integrity Unit alleged that Okagbare, who won the opening heat of the Women’s 100 meters, had tested positive for human growth hormone.
“The House is also aware that the allegation further affirmed that the affected athletes failed to comply with the rules requiring those from countries deemed to be at high risk of doping to undergo three no-notice out-of-competition tests in a 10 months’ period leading up to a major event.
“The House is concerned that despite the huge funds being made available yearly for the regulatory agencies in the sports sector, adequate efforts have not been made to get Nigeria into the category where they would be deemed to have made significant improvements in anti-doping tests,” Ayeni added.
NYG: Rivers B’Ball Team Intensifies Preparations
Coach of the Rivers State Male Basket-ball Team, Dagogo Okumgba, has said that preparation, are in top gear for the forthcoming 2021 edition of the National Youth Games (NYG)scheduled to hold in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Coach Okumgba disclosed this yesterday during an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the team is doing everything necessary to get a better outing in Ilorin when the chips are down, saying that the players are in high spirits and are poised to compete favourably when the competition gets underway.
The coach said his players are committed to their preparations for the task ahead and determined to do the state proud at the games come November this year.
“We are doing our part to prepare as a team and wait for a go ahead from the Sports Ministry for camping so as to further prepare and fortify on the earlier made preparation,” Okumgba added.
The team qualified from their zone at the recently concluded zonal elimi-nation for team sports ahead of “National Youth Games” coming up next month.
It would be recalled that the zonal elimination for team events which comprised Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Edo states took place in Asaba, Delta State, fortnight ago.
The date for the competition was earlier fixed for September 7 to 17 this year.
10 Athletes To Represent Nigeria At Winter Olympics
Following the successful completion of its inaugural Olympics Trials in Lagos last Saturday, the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria has stated that 10 athletes would represent Nigeria at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games.
Technical Director, BSFN, Dr. Seun Adigun disclosed this in Lagos.
“Ten athletes will be named for the Winter Olympics.
“We will have two athletes for Bobsled, two in the Monobob women’s team, two athletes for the Bobsled men’s team, two male Skeleton and two female Skeleton athletes for the national team,” Adigun, who played a key role in Nigeria’s debut at the last Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, Sourh Korea, said.
President, BSFN, Solomon Ogba stated that the team would train on ice in Europe, ahead of the Winter Games.
“This is the first stage of the preparation for the Olympics before the athletes train on ice,” Ogba said.
History was made earlier in the year when six athletes, who were selected from the first-ever trials in Lagos, trained and participated on ice for the first time in Pyeongchang.
Tidesports source reports that after a few days of training on ice, Perpetua Nwanna and Alawode Sekinat won bronze medal in their debut competition, after finishing third in the women’s double Bobsleigh IBSFSliding Korea Cup.
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