Samuel Ogazi joins idol Chidi Okezie in illustrious 400m mark, breaks Nigerian 26-year-old youth record

Samuel Ogazi joins idol Chidi Okezie in illustrious 400m mark, breaks Nigerian 26-year-old youth record

Funmilayo Fameso 09:19 - 01.04.2024

Another milestone for Nigerian youngster Samuel Ogazi, who joined his idol Chidi Okezie in an illustrious club of sub-45.40s runners.

There's a rise in Nigerian male quarter-milers getting better this season, all thanks to the early season performances of Chidi Okezie and Samuel Ogazi.

The duo surpassed the illustrious sub-45.50s mark that has eluded Nigerian 400m runners for over five years, giving hope that the country's track fans can dream of individual men's Olympic qualifications for the first time since Orukpe Erayokan made it to Rio 2016.

Chidi Okezie is Nigeria's fastest quartermiler in 2024

Last weekend at the Battle of the Bayou in Louisiana, Ogazi sped to a blazing Personal Best (PB) of 45.35s to finish second overall behind Christopher Morales Williams, who ran 45.18s.

The 17-year-old's blistering time broke Nduka Awazie's National U18 record of 45.44s set in 1998 and became the youngest quarter-miler in Nigerian history to break the 45.40s mark.  

Ogazi's record is also the second-fastest Nigerian U20 time in history behind Emmanuel Bamidele's 45.28s and is second on the 2024 world list in that age group category, after Quincy Wilson's outstanding 45.19s.

Samuel Ogazi dominating the field for a record-breaking victory

Noteworthy is that the University of Alabama freshman went to the meet with a PB of 45.91s, so dropping it by such a huge margin in his first race of the season, shows how much he can still improve as the season progresses.

Likewise, he emulated his idol Okezie, who clocked 45.06s in Ghana to become the first Nigerian man to win the African Games men's 400m title since the legendary Innocent Egbunike in 1987, and it is the fastest time by a Nigerian athlete in nine years.

Ogazi and Okezie will be gunning to hit the Paris Olympics qualifying standard of 45.00s, and considering it's just their first outdoor races of the season, there's room for improvements to surpass the mark and make their first individual Olympics.