Shanghai Diamond League 2014
A victorious Blessing Okagbare clapping after winning at the Shanghai Diamond League last year. Photo Credit: Zimbio.com

Not everyone starts the season with a continental record! However, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare proved to be in a class of her own while competing at the 2018 Wes Kittley Invitational in Abilene, Texas, on Saturday, March 24th.

Indeed history was made at the Elmer J. Gray Stadium when the African Record in the women’s 200m made a transfer from one Nigerian to another! Okagbare, who was racing competitively for the first time this season, stormed to a new African Record of 22.04s to win the 200m, erasing compatriot Mary Onyali’s long-standing record of 22.07s set in Zurich in 1996.

Cierra White followed in 2nd place in 23.26s, while Natasha McDonald settled for 3rd in 24.23s. Another Nigerian, Omotayo Abolaji placed 4th in the race with a Season’s Best (SB) of 24.42s while competing for South Plains College.

Okagbare’s previous Personal Best (PB) in the event was 22.23s, set at the 2014 Eugene Diamond League. Going by her latest exploit, it means that Okagbare now holds the Nigerian records in the women’s 100m (10.79s) and 200m.

With such a solid start to the season, the Beijing 2008 Silver medallist in the Long Jump may be gunning to reclaim the African Record in the 100m from Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahoure, who bettered the Nigerian’s mark by just 0.01s in 2016 with her PB of 10.78s.

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Yemi Olus is a Senior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. She has a bias for athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the National Sports Festival and the African Athletics Championships, and has also freelanced for the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN). Yemi holds a BA in Public Administration from Ahmadu Bello University .

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