By Monica Iheakam
World Athletics has listed the duo of Team Nigeria teenage track sensations, Imaobong Nse Uko and Udodi Onwuzuruike among the top world talents to defend their titles in the year 2022.
Out of the 40 individual winners at the World U-20 championship held in Kenya last year, 16 of them were profiled by the athletics ruling body on their website to compete for podium places at the World Athletics U-20 Championships Cali, Colombia from August 1-6, 2022.
Uko, whose beaming picture was proudly splashed on the World Athletics website, ran 52.36 at age 14 back in 2018, won three gold medals in Nairobi. The 17-year-old set a lifetime best of 51.55 to win the one-lap sprint title. One day later, she contributed to Nigeria’s triumph in the women’s 4x400m, having also formed part of the winning mixed 4x400m team earlier in the championships. All three medallists in the women’s 400m in Nairobi will be young enough to clash again in Cali this year.
Also compatriot Onwuzurike, based in the US, enjoyed the competition of his life in Nairobi last year. He smashed his 200m PB in the heats with 20.47, ran a wind-assisted 20.13 to win his semifinal, and then took gold in the final with a PB of 20.21. He also featured on the Nigerian 4x100m squad, which failed to get the baton around, but he and his teammates can aim to make amends in Cali.