*Picks bronze in IAAF Diamond League in London
Reigning Nigeria sprint queen Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor on Sunday at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London ran 10.99 seconds, her first sub-11 seconds performance of the season to place third behind Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (10.94) and Dutch girl, Dafne Schippers (10.97). She has thus raced back to reckoning ahead of next month’s 16th IAAF World Championships also in London.
It was the Nigerian’s first sub-11 seconds performance in the 100m in over 21 months and 17th of a very storied career since she raced into the limelight in Abuja on July 25 when she won her first national title in the blue ribband event.
Many local athletics watchers had been doubting Okagbare’s ability to bounce back after a rather disappointing 2016 season when she not only failed to race inside 11 seconds in the 100m but also could not make the final of the event at the Rio Olympics.
The last time she ran a sub-11 seconds in the 100m was way back in September 2015 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich where she closed her season with a 10.98 seconds performance.
Interestingly, the Nigerian ran an incredible six sub-11 seconds in the 100m that season, topping it with the 10.80 seconds she ran at the IAAF Diamond League meeting at the Stade De France in Paris on July 4. It was her and Nigeria’s second fastest 100m time ever.
It was also the third fastest time in the world that year. Okagbare broke 11 seconds for the first time in 2012 when she ran 10.96 seconds to place second in the first semi-final at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Crystal Palace, London on July 14.She ran three more sub-11 seconds to close the season with a 10.92 personal best on August 4 at the Olympics in London.
She ran three more the following year with an incredible 10.79 seconds performance to become the first Nigerian nay African woman to break 10.80 seconds in the 100m.It was then a new African record which proved to be the second fastest in the world that year behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pyrce’s IAAF World-title winning 10.71 seconds performance in Moscow.
In 2014,Okagbare broke 11 seconds thrice like she did the previous year and ended the season with a 10.85 seconds personal season’s best which not only fetched her the Commonwealth Games gold but also ensured she ended the year with the second fastest time in the world, again behind USA’s Torie Bowie (10.80 seconds).
The following year she ran six times inside 11 seconds and was on course to becoming the first Nigerian to win a 100m medal at the IAAF Worlds in Beijing but wishes refused to turn to horses as she finished last in the final. Last year she did not legally break 11 seconds as the 10.92 seconds she ran at the Istvan Guylai Memorial Grand Prix in Hungary on July 18 was aided by a +2.6 metres per second trailing wind which rendered it illegal.