Blessing Okagbare (L) placed first ahead of Gloria Asumnu
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Blessing Okagbare Tuesday rewrote the country’s track and field history, emerging the first woman to win for the fourth consecutive time the 100m event of the All Nigeria/CRS Athletics Championships at the U.J Esuene Stadium, Calabar.
She snatched the title from the USA-based Gloria Asumnu in a photo finish.
Okagbare was clocked 11.12 secs as against the 11.13 recorded for Asumnu.
Lauretta Ozoh (11.19) picked the bronze to leave All Africa Games double champion, Oludamola Osayomi (11.38) in the fourth position.
Okagbare expressed her happiness emerging the first Nigerian lady to win the title four times.
“I am really happy defending the title here in Calabar. It was not an easy race considering those who were in the line up. It is something that I need to celebrate,” said Okagbare at the mixed zone shortly after the race.
Although she admitted that the 11.12 seconds she clocked was not what she expected.
“But when you look at the weather condition today and the lack of enough time to loosen up, you will agree that the time is not altogether a bad one.”
She, however, promised to improve on the time as the summer Games approaches.
“First, I will go to the Senior African Championships in Port Novo, Benin Republic to see if I can improve on it and also defend successfully the title I won in Kenya two years ago,” she added.
On why she had not been doing the long jump event where she won a bronze at Beijing 2008 Olympics and even now have more potentials to reach the podium in London, Okagbare insisted the surgery she had sometime ago slowed her progression in the event.
“I am going to do the long jump on Thursday. I need the speed of the sprint to help me in the jump. Now that I am getting real good in the sprint, I think it is time I go full blast into the long jump. Let’s see how I fare in it,” stressed the Sapele-born sprinter.
In some of the other events concluded Tuesday, Kenechukwu Ezeofor of the Prisons Service easily pocketed both the shot put and javelin event titles.
He heaved 68.44m to win the javelin, leaving the second and third positions to Friday Osayande (64.00m) and John Mike Eze (62.56m) both of the Police.
In the shot put, Ezeofor had no match as his 64.53m guaranteed him the gold while Osi Denis Sunday (14.58m) of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Adeyemi Ola Oluwatunde (14.48m) of Oyo State settled for the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The men and women’s 20km walk race was a one way police affair as Queensley Asedo and Adeyemi Kazeem claimed the gold medals. Another police athlete, Queen Henshaw (1hr.49. mins 49.13secs) was second, while Bolanle Kareem (1 hr. 59.22.40) of the Sunday Bada Athletics Club settled for the bronze medal.
In the men’s version, Kazeem (1.hr.44.09.70secs) was chased to the finish line by both Osi Denis Sunday (1hr.45.04.36) of the NSCDC and Lawal Oluseyi (1.hr.50.27.67secs).