—Becomes fifth fastest Nigerian ever over the distance
By Dare Esan:
Nigeria's Patience Okon on Sunday set a new 50.76 seconds 400m personal best and African lead to win the 400m event at the Resisprint athletics meeting in the Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, where Botswana's Isaac Makwala regained the African record he lost barely 24 hours earlier to South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk (43.96 seconds) at the Paris IAAF Diamond League meeting with a sensational 43.72 seconds run.
Okon's time, half a second faster than her previous best of 51.29 seconds she ran last year June in Warri, is the fastest time returned by an African so far this year. It also ensured she supplanted Regina George (50.84 seconds) as the fifth fastest Nigerian ever over the distance after Falilat Ogunkoya who holds the African record at 49.10 seconds; Charity Opara whose 49.29 seconds run in Rome at the Golden Gala was the fastest time in the world in 1998, Fatimah Yusuf's altitude-aided 49.43 seconds run which fetched her the gold medal at the All Africa Games in Harare,Zimbabwe in 1995 and Bisi Afolabi's 50.30 run in 2000.
Meanwhile, Regina George has a chance to regain her number five position in Nigeria's all-time rankings this Thursday at the Athletissima (IAAF Diamond League) meeting in Lausanne where she will be returning of action since May when she ran the then African 2015 lead of 51.30 in Kawasaki, Japan at IAAF Challenge meeting.