Blessing Okagbare won her second title at the on-going 19th African Championships in Marakech,Morocco when she led the quartet of herself,Gloria Asumnu, Dominique Duncan and Lawreta Ozoh to the 4x100m gold in 43.56 seconds.It was Nigeria’s fourth consecutive win of the title after Damola Osayomi anchored the team to gold in 2008 in Addis Ababa,Ethiopia.Nigeria has now won 10 of the 19 gold medals offered so far in the championships since its inaugural edition in 1979 in Dakar,Senegal. Cote D’Ivoire picked the silver (43.99) while Ghana won the bronze in 44.06 seconds.
Quartermiler Folasade Abugan Tuesday in Marakech,Morocco returned Nigeria to the top of the women’s 400m at the African championships by winning the gold medal 16 years after Falilat Ogunkoya successfully completed a 200m/400m double in Dakar,Senegal.
Abugan profited immensely from the misfortune of Botswana’s perrenial winners,Amantle Monthso who tested positive for a banned substance at the Commonwalth Games in Glasgow,Scotland to win her first African title in a photo-finish with Zambia’s Kabange Mupopo as both athletes were clocked at 51.21 seconds with another Nigerian,Patience Okon George picking the bronze medal.
Abugan,silver medallist in Glasgow just under a forthnight ago has also improved on her bronze medal finish in 2010 in Nairobi.
‘I am so happy to win because four years ago I won a bronze medal but this time around, I am the African champion. This season has been a great one for me as I became national champion, won a bronze at the IAAF World Relays and silver at the Commonwealth Games. I am going to train harder ahead of the Continental Cup,”she said. Abugan has thus become the seventh Nigerian winner of the title.
In women’s Discus Throw,Chinwe Okoro broke Monia Kari of Tunisia’s 58.46m championships record with a new 59.79m personal best to retain the title she first won two years ago in Porto Novo,Benin Republic.She remains the second Nigerian woman after Grace Apiafi (1988) to win the gold medal.Okwelogu Nwanneka also of Nigeria won the silver medal (51.66m).
A delighted Okoro whose any of her four legal throws could have won the gold is already eyeing a better performance at next month’s IAAF Continental Cup which will also hold in Marrakech.
“It was my best performance and my next goal is to realize the best record in the next coming competitions,”she said.
It was also gold and silver for Nigeria in the women’s triple jump as Brume Ese (6.50m) and Chinazom Amadi (6.40m) dominated events in the pit.
In the men’s 400m hurdles,Amaechi Morton expectedly picked the silver behind reigning Commonwealth Games champion,Cornel Fredericks (48.92s) while the second Nigerian in the race,Miles Ukaoma who stumbled on a hurdle, placed seventh with 50.40secs.
In the men’s triple jump,the duo of Tosin Oke and Olumide Olamigoke struggled to make it to today’s final with both failing to hit the 16.10m automatic qualifying mark.
Oke jumped 15.94m in group A while Olamigoke hopped,stepped and jumped 15.60mm in group to qualify for the final.
South Africa’s Khotso Mokoena who won the Commonwealth Games title with 17.20m penultimate week in Glasgow jumped 16.15m in group A to qualify while Algeria’s Nima Issa jumped 16.27w to top group B.
Nigeria have moved to the top of the medals standing with six gold,four silver and four bronze medals while South Africa are now second with five gold,four silver and one bronze medals.Kenya is third with two gold,one silver and five bronze medals.