IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
*George, two others in tough 400m sâ€™final draws * Tosin Oke begins race for triple jump final ticket
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeriaâ€™s biggest hope for a medal at the ongoing 16thÂ IAAF World Championships in London, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor failed to qualify for the final of the womenâ€™s 100m final last night. American Tori Bowie (10.85secs) won the final in a photo-finish with Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.86) of Cote dâ€™Ivoire. Dutch girl, Dafne Schippers (10.96) picked the bronze.
Earlier, Okagbare who is former African record holder in the event ran 11.08secs to place fourth in the third semi final of the night.
Just like it happened two years ago at the Beijing edition of the Championship when Okagbare finished third in the semi stage, the University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) graduate, failed to reproduce the form that earned her the African title of 10.79 secs to stand a chance of fighting for podium placement in the final.
She had similarly failed to make the final of the event at the last Olympic Games in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Delta ladyâ€™s late surge in form that saw her running a sub-11 (10.99) leading to the competition had raised the hope of a miracle happening to wipe the memory of her eighth position at the Olympic Stadium during the London 2012 games.
With the 100m gone with the wind, Okagbareâ€™s next focus will now shift to the long jump event where she won a silver medal at the 2013 edition of the World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
Despite Okagbareâ€™s slip in the sprint, three other Nigerian ladies: Patience Okon George, Yinka Ajayi and Margaret Bamgbose will have to set new personal best times and possibly run inside 50 seconds if one or all three of them desire to race inTuesdayâ€™sÂ womenâ€™s 400m final.
The trio made history of some sort in the first round when they became the second Nigerian trio of quarter-milers to qualify for the semi-final of the championships after the feat recorded in 2009 by the trio of Folasade Abugan, Sorina Nwachukwu and Amaka Ogoegbunam.
George came second in heat 5 behind USA’s Quanera Hayes in 51.83 seconds while the duo of Ajayi and Bamgbose came third in their respective heats.
Ajayi, making her debut at the championships ran 51.58 seconds in a heat that had the reigning Olympic champion in the event, Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-UiboÂ Â Â (50.97) and Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson (51.27) who came first and second respectively.
Bamgbose, a semi-finalist at the Olympics in Rio last year was also third in heat 6 to book a place inÂ MondayÂ night’s semi-final.
The trio will make history if they make it to the final to become the first time Nigeria will present three athletes in the final. The best Nigeria has produced when Fatimah Yusuf and Falilat Ogunkoya ran in the final of the event in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1995.
They will however have to break new grounds to make that a reality. George has been drawn in the first of the three semi-final heats and will have to run faster than the 50.71 seconds personal best she set two years ago before she can have a chance of upsetting the duo of Miller-Uibo and Hayes and pick one of the two automatic qualification
slots for the final or hope to qualify as one of the two fastest losers after the three semi-finals must have been decided.
The same magic the duo of Ajayi and Bmagbose would have to performÂ tonightÂ as they were also drawn against world-class quarter-milers.
Ajayi will run from lane 8 in the second semis and will hope for a miracle of some sort to race past defending champion, USA’s Allyson Felix, the Jamaican duo of Shericka Jackson and ageless Novlene Williams-Mills as well as 2015 9th IAAF World Youth Championships winner, Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain.
Bamgbose on the other hand will battle USA’SÂ Phyllis Francis, the only athlete in her heat who has ran inside 50 seconds (49.96 seconds) this season, home girl Zoey Clark as well as the African duo of Kabange Mupopo of Zambia and former world champion, Amantle Montsho of Botswana.
Only two Nigerians, Falilat Ogunkoya and Fatimah Yusuf have made it to the final of the event with the former’s fourth place finish in Seville, Spain in 1999 Nigeria’s best position in the event.
Meanwhile the duo of quarter-mile barrier runner, Glory Onome Nathaniel and triple jumper, Tosin Oke will also be in actionMonday.
Nathaniel whose brother Samson failed to advance beyond the first round of the men’s 400m will hope to at least go one step further and equal Nigeria’s best performance in the event, a semi-final finish. She will run from lane three in heat five of the opening round.
Oke, finalist at the last edition of the championships in Beijing two years ago has been drawn in the second of two qualifying groups and will need to set at least a new personal season’s best of 17.00m to gain automatic qualification or hope to be among the best 12
performers in the two groups to make his second straight final in the event.