By Dare Esan:
Nigeria and Africa’s fastest woman, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, Sunday in Eugene, Oregon, USA re-confirmed her status as Nigeria’s greatest sprinter of all time with her 12th run inside 11 seconds in the 100m.
Okagbare placed fourth with her 10.87 seconds run, her fourth fastest time ever, behind reigning world 100m queen, Shelly-Anne Fraser-Pyrce of Jamaica, and USA’s Tori Bowie, two of the women she out-ran in Shanghai, China on May 17 and Ivory Coast’s Muriel Ahoure. Both Fraser-Pyrce and Ahoure ran 10.81 seconds to place first and second respectively.
Okagbare, who only broke 11 seconds in the event in 2012 to become the fifth Nigerian woman to do so, has now run inside 11 seconds a record 12 times, 10 times more than Mary Onyali-Omagbemi who ran 10.97 (1993) and 10.99 (2000) and Chioma Ajunwa, the first Nigerian to break 11 seconds in the event and the second fastest Nigerian ever with the 10.84 seconds she ran in April 1992.
Others who have also ducked inside 11 seconds are sprint hurdler Glory Alozie, who ran 10.90 at La Laguna in Spain in June 1999 and Oludamola Osayomi who ran 10.99 seconds on May 22, 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil.
Okagbare has won the Nigerian 100m title for six consecutive seasons but could only break her first 11 seconds (10.99) on July 14 in Crystal Palace, England in 2012.
She would go on to run three more sub 11 seconds that year (10.92,10.93 and 10.96).
The following year she ran inside 11 seconds thrice with the 10.79 seconds African record she ran on July 27 at the Olympic stadium in London.
She also ran 10.86 (an African record she broke at the same meeting with 10.79) and 10.93 that year.
In 2014 she was able to break 11 seconds thrice including the 10.85 seconds she ran to win the Commonwealth title in Glasgow, Scotland.
This year she has raced inside 11 seconds twice and looks set to further extend the daylight between her and her Nigerian and African past heroines.
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