By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Chinwe Okoro Thursday won the women’s discuss event to give Nigeria her first gold medal in the on-going 18th African Senior Athletics Championships in Port Novo, Benin Republic.
The Nigerian national record holder of 58.25m set last May in Louisville, Kentucky wiped the gloom that had earlier enveloped the Team Nigeria camp following the disappointing race posted by favourite, Blessing Okagbare in the women 100m.
She heaved 56.60m to leave South African Elizma Naude (55.88m) settling for the silver medal.
Earlier, Blessing Okagbare had lost her 100m title to Gabonese Ruddy Zang Milama in a race the Nigerian champions was favourite to win.
Milama clocked 11.16 secs while Okagbare picked the silver in 11.18. Another Nigerian, Gloria Asumnu was third in 11.28.
As has become the Delta girl’s Achile’s Heel, Okagbare struggled out last from the block and failed to match the determination of the Gabonese, the same girl that chased her to the finish line in Nairobi, Kenya two years ago.
Apparently angry with herself for letting the country down, Okagbare refused to comment on her race. “What do you want me to say? It is not every time an athlete wins,” said the University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) graduate as she moved on into the warm-up area to prepare for the long jump event she is also the defending champion.
In the men’s version, both Obinna Metu and Ogho Oghene Egwero failed to place for a medal in the race won by South African Simone Mogakwe (10.29secs).
Egyptian Amr Saouid (10.34) and Suwaibou Sanneh (10.37) of the Gambia were second and third respectively. Egwero and Metu were timed 10.40 for the joint 4th position.
Earlier in the day, Seun Adigun had crashed into the hurdle sticks to also drop her 100m hurdles title for Senegalese Gnima Faye (13.36secs) to profit from. Algerian Amina Figuene (13.56) and Nigerian Ohunoma Naomi Osazuwa picked the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The day was not altogether a bad one for Nigeria as Regina George and Bukola Abogunloko qualified for the women’s quarter mile final slated for today. Regina won her heat one in 51.71 secs while World Junior Championships 4x400m silver medallist, Abogunloko also placed first in the other second semi final. World Champion, Amantle Montsho of Botswana holds the ace here as she effortlessly cruised to the top place in the third semi.
Abiola Onakoya (46.39) is also into the men’s final same as USA based Amaechi Morton who also won his 400m hurdles to brighten Nigeria's chances of winning medals Friday.