By Dare Esan:
Nigeria’s biggest athletics superstar, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, will hit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London this weekend for the 10th meeting of the IAAF Diamond League hoping to rewrite history.
It was at the same venue two years ago, precisely on July 27, 2013, that the double Commonwealth sprint champion rewrote the African 100m record.
She broke the 10.84 seconds Nigeria and African record held since 1992 by compatriot Chioma Ajunwa with a stunning 10.79 seconds run thereby becoming the first African woman to run inside 10.80 seconds.
Okagbare had shown the picture of what was to come in the semi-final when she ran 10.86 seconds, two hundredths of a second outside Ajunwa’s record. She came back barely an hour later to run the stunning record.
The Nigerian has run 10.80 seconds this season and may be propelled into breaking her area record by the presence of such quality cast as Cote D’Ivoire’s
Muriel Ahoure who picked a pair of sprint silver medals at the IAAF Worlds in Moscow two years ago; new British 100m record holder Dina Asher-Smith and double European champion Dafne Schippers.
Also expected to race is former Nigeria 400m champion, Regina George, who has a chance to regain the Nigeria and African 400m 2015 lead from compatriot, Patience Okon George.
Regina’s 51.30 seconds run on May 10 this year at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Kawasaki, Japan was the fastest time returned by an African in the event until Okon George’s 50.76 seconds performance early this month in La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland.
That mark ensured she supplanted Regina as the fifth fastest Nigerian ever in the event.
Regina’s 50.84 seconds personal best achieved at the semi-final stage of the 2013 IAAF Worlds in Moscow had made her the fifth fastest after Falilat Ogunkoya (49.10), Charity Opara (49.29), Fatimah Yusuf (49.43A) and Olabisi Afolabi (50.30).