Only GOLD is good enough for Nigeria’s sprint queen, Blessing Okagbare and the reigning Commonwealth Double Sprint Champion added one more precious metal to her kitty as she clocked 11 seconds flat to beat fierce rival, Murielle Ahouré in the women’s 100m on Day Two of the African Athletics Championships in Marrakech, Morocco.
The race, which was one of the highlights at the Grande De Stade in Marrakech, was a close one but Okagbare’s longer strides came in handy as she pulled through just ahead of Ahouré and another Ivorian Marie Ta Lou Gonezie won Silver and Bronze with 11.03s and 11.20s respectively. Okagbare thus regained her African crown that she lost to Gabon’s Ruddy Zang Milama in the last edition of the championships held in Port Novo in 2012.
The Moscow 2013 double medallist has been in brilliant form in the build up to the championships, going by her exploits at the Commonwealth Games where she posted an outstanding performance, winning the 100m with a scorching 10.85s, and then adding the 200m gold in 22.25s just three days later. Speaking with journalists after winning this latest African title, Okagbare revealed that following her Commonwealth Double she had to push hard for the win in Marrakech:
“I am very happy to have won the title because I just wanted to win for my fans and do my country proud. Just coming straight from the Commonwealth Games, my body is tired, but my coach told me to just focus and execute the race, which was what I did.”
“Of course the competition was stiffer at the Commonwealth Games, but that is not to take anything away from Murielle Ahoure. She is a great athlete. It was good that we had three Nigerians in the final – I am hoping that we can have this kind of representation on a bigger platform, like the World Championships and the Olympics.”
Her Nigerian teammates, Gloria Asumnu and Lawreta Ozoh finished 4th and 7th respectively with 11.49s and 11.74s. Okagbare’s medal is Nigeria’s first GOLD at these championships, elevating Nigeria to 3rd on the medals table with one GOLD, one Silver and three Bronze medals. South Africa occupy top spot with four GOLD, three Silver and one Bronze medal, followed by Cote d’Ivoire with one GOLD, two Silver and a Bronze medal.