A friend of mine said last week that 'God is a Nigerian'. Well, I'm tempted to believed him now as Nigeria has miraculously found her way into the women's 4x100m relay event at the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, China, even after all reasonable hopes were lost.
When the relay teams to the Games of XXIX Olympiad, Beijing 2008, were announced by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) on Monday 21 July, Nigeria was in 18th position in the women’s 4 x100m qualification standings.
However, today one qualified nation, Finland pulled out and Nigeria moved up to the 16th - Cuba (originally 16th) had earlier declined their invitation for the women’s 4 x100m and was replaced by Thailand, originally 17th - and final placing and will now compete in Beijing.
Last week, Nigeria's last ditched and ill advised efforts at muscling the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to field a women's 4x100m team in Beijing was thrown out after the IAAF argued that the country had two years to qualify for the event(deadline was set for 16th July, 2008) so the inability to get Schengen visas for the athletes to attend meets in Europe was no excuse.
Worse still, the Nigerian Athletics Federation (AFN) organised a CAA Permit meet in Abuja in June, yet could not notify IAAF on time to approve Relay events in the programme and in effect the times ran by the teams were not ratified.
So the unfortunate athletes affected had to leave camp and head back home, their Olympic aspirations quashed through no fault of theirs.
AFN only had themselves to blame as the Technical Director, Sunday Bada was aware of the likely problem that might arise if the qualification position were not achieved by mid July.
Once again, Nigeria, in spite of our fire brigade approach to preparations, escape by the proverbial skin of her teeth.
Watch the Nigeria relay team qualification below - women's 100m final at the Nigerian trials in 2008.
Final list of Relay teams in Beijing (pdf format)