Onyali Hails Okagbare for Erasing Her 22 Year-old 200m African Record

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By Duro Ikhazuagbe

Former Nigerian Queen of the Track, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi has congratulated Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor for erasing her 22 year-old 200m African record of 22.07secs at the weekend.

Running in her season opening race at the 2018 Wes Kittley Invitational inside the Elmer J. Gray Stadium in Abilene, Texas, on Saturday, Sapele-born Okagbare raced to a new 22.04 African record to win the longer sprint event.

The Beijing 2008 silver medalist in the women’s long jump lost her 100m African record to Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahoure who bettered the Nigerian’s mark of 10.79 secs by just 0.01s in 2016 with her PB of 10.78secs.

Okagbare has effectively consign to history the 22.07 clocked by Onyali in Weltklasse Zurich in 1996.

Onyali was particularly pleased that her 22 year-old African record has been broken by her compatriot.

“My 200m African record went to my little sister yesterday. Congrats Ble-Ble Baby ! Now we are back on track !! Thanks for keeping this in the family Kitty; While we hunt for the other one ! On a mission. Stay tuned,” Onyali gushed with enthusiasm at the feat of Okagbare yesterday.

Cierra White placed second behind Okagbare in a distant 23.26s, while Natasha McDonald settled for third in 24.23s.  Another Nigerian sprinter, Omotayo Abolaji placed fourth in the race with a Season’s Best (SB) of 24.42s while competing for South Plains College.

Okagbare’s previous Personal Best (PB) in the event was 22.23s, set at the 2014 Eugene Diamond League. She now holds the Nigerian women’s records in the 100m (10.79secs) and 200m (22.04secs).

With this new form, it is going to be difficult for the Delta-born sprinter to avoid defending the double sprint medals she won at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland four years ago.

The former Team Nigeria captain had earlier signified her intention to race only in the 4x100m relay at the Games scheduled to hold in Gold Coast, Australia between April 4 and 15. She remains the favourite for both the 100m and 200m gold medals at the Games.