Berlin relay fever grips African nations

With the IAAF's qualification deadline of 3 August 2009 (midnight Monaco time) for the submission of final entries for relay teams, from the IAAF’s 213 Member Federations, fast approaching, Kenya and Nigeria relay teams head to Germany this weekend in last-ditch efforts to make the World Championships in Berlin.

Kenya, once a force to reckon with in the men's 4X400m relay, with a silver medal (by the quartet of Kennedy Ochieng, Simon Kemboi, Abednego Matilu and Samson Kitur) at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart, are struggling badly.

A recent attempt at qualifying at the 4th CAA Super Grand Prix meet in Abuja, Nigeria two weeks ago ended when a collision with the Nigerian third leg at the final changeover left the Kenyan anchor leg with his right spike shoe off and unable to meet the 3:03.30 qualifying mark as the team ended third in 3:03.90.

Kenyan sprint coach Stephen Mwaniki told me in Abuja they plan to take the 4X400m relay quartet (Anderson Mureta, Mark Mutai, Julius Kirwa and Thomas Musembi) to a final meeting in Germany this weekend in order to make the time.

In similar vein the Nigerian men 4x100m quartet are still chasing qualification. With the Berlin relay standard at 39.10, the Nigerian best so far was 39.57 ran at the Abuja meet. The west African nation is currently behind the last qualifier, The Netherlands (39.04) and Poland (39.11) who is waiting at the edge of the 'A' standard.

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