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Again, Okagbare fails on the big stage


False dawn... Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor (right) beat Australia’s Melissa Breen and other challengers in the heat of the 100m women race before yesterday’s final in which she placed last. PHOTO: AFP.

False dawn… Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor (right) beat Australia’s Melissa Breen and other challengers in the heat of the 100m women race before yesterday’s final in which she placed last. PHOTO: AFP.

• African champion comes last in women 100m

As it has always been the case in major championships where much is expected of the Nigerian champion, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor once again failed to rise to the occasion at the on-going IAAF Athletics World Championship at the Bird Nest Stadium, Beijing, China.

In a field filled with some of the stars Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has been beaten constantly in the past two years, the Nigerian came last out of the eight competitors in the 100 metres women race.

Yesterday’s result was somehow a big shock to Nigerians in Beijing because early in the day, Okagbare-Ighoteguonor had run a good race to place in the semifinal (10.89secs) behind Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the heat in 10.82 seconds.

Even during the heats, Okagbare did far better as she won her pool to set up what many of her fans thought would be a happy day. But that was not to be.
Placed ion lane nine, Okagbare-Ighoteguonor could not muster that little extra to match the field in the race won by Fraser-Pryce in 10.76 seconds.

Behind her, former heptathlete, Dafne Schippers, set a second Dutch record of the night for silver in 10.81, edging Tori Bowie of the United States by .05 seconds.

Okagbare was sluggish out of the blocks and could not catch up with any of the other finalists as she finished in a disappointing 11.02 seconds.

If Sunday’s heats gave an inkling into the potential medallists yesterday, these views hardened during three scintillating semi-finals.

The defending champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, was first to lay down a marker to her rivals and looked at her imperious best during the first semi-final.

The Jamaican, who has proved the outstanding sprinter of her generation, set the tone from the gun and flashed across the line in 10.82, within 0.04 of the fastest time ever recorded in a World Championships semi-final in this event, and even appeared to hold something in reserve by turning off the power in the final 10 metres.

Behind her, Okagbare-Ighotegunor put clear daylight between her and the rest of the field to take second in 10.89, 0.15 clear of Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou, who claimed a shock third place with a PB of 11.04 although the latter just missed out on a place in the final.

There was disappointment for world number two, English Gardner, from the USA. She got away reasonably well but rapidly faded out of contention over the second half of the race and wound up sixth in 11.13.

As at press time, Nigeria had only one woman, Patience Okon-George, remaining in the 400 metres race, as the duo of Regina George and Tosin Adeloye crashed out of the race in the heats.

The women 400 metres will hold this morning.

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  • Chinedu Michael

    This reporting has so many elements of wrong to it. That Blessing was out done here doesn’t mean she needs to be portrayed in this light. She reps Nigeria and no patriotic writer will try to water down her efforts like this reporter is. She is African champion and you don’t pick that from the floor. I doubt if this reporter has even won a local government award for his/her profession not to talk of an African award. My opinion is that you are part of the reason she is not doing so well. Her counter parts have their reporters motivating them in the right direction and you guys are here undermining Africa’s best.

    • otitolomaaleke

      You are right – this writer is bad business with his discouragement notes

  • Joseph

    What was her level of preparation for the competition?

  • Jimmy Ajim

    There’s too much pressure on Okagbare. What about other Nigerian athletes ? Okagbare burns out in lesser races and shines just to eke out a living with personal efforts. Why can’t AFN sponsor 30 athletes abroad for major competitions ?. Government and Corporate bodies should step in please. Let’s leave Okagbare alone, she can’t win all the time. Most of the guys lampooning her cannot even chase a rooster !

  • curtis uwuigbe

    Blessing has indeed been a blessing to Nigeria because she has put Nigeria in contention for the highest awards. She had also beaten the current champions in other championships, and they know there is an element of luck in those sprint races. Blessing always said she starts late and that if she is able to start quickly, she would win. I agree with her 100%. If you have ran before, you will understand that a delay of a quarter of a second could cost you a 100 meters title. You could only make up for such delays in medium to long distance races.

  • Prince T

    blessing was no good at all. she should have learnt from the time of egbunike. the european athletes will let you take the lead during the heats and save energy. they will now run their best in the finals. Nigerians
    would have burnt their own energy in the leading. when are our athletes going to learn. chei