Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor kicked off her campaign at the ongoing IAAF World Championships on Saturday on an impressive note, by qualifying for the 100m semifinals.
The seven-time National Champion competed in Heat 3, and had to overcome a poor start to finish 2nd in 11.22s behind US Champion, Tori Bowie who clocked 11.05s, while Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova-Colio was 3rd in 11.31s.
Though this is not a very fast time coming from the Commonwealth Record (CR) holder in the 100m, it can be understood that this is just the early stage, and one expect faster times from her especially in the semifinals.
Germany’s Gina Luckenkemper surprisingly had the fastest time of all three heats, racing to a lifetime best of 10.95s, with African Record (AR) holder Murielle Ahoure coming in 2nd in their heat clocking 11.04s, while Jamaica’s Jura Levy was 3rd in 11.09s.
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Double Olympic Champion, Elaine Thompson made sure she’s still the woman to beat, by easily winning her heat in 11.05s ahead of Canada’s Emmanuel Crystal, who raced to a Personal Best (PB) of 11.14s.
Marie-Josse Ta Lou took an impressive victory of 11.00s ahead of Dafne Schippers who had 11.08s, with another surprising victory coming from Brazil’s Rosangelo Santos, who equaled her PB of 11.04s ahead of world No.2 Michelle-Lee Ahye with 11.14s, while Homegirl Daryll Neita won the final heat in 11..15s.
Other Nigerian athletes in action were Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, who competed in the qualifying rounds of the Shot put but couldn’t make it through to the final, as he finished 25th overall with his best mark 19.72m.
National Champion in the 400m, Samson Nathaniel also made his debut at the World Championships, finishing 5th in 46.63s, a race that was won by Jamaica’s Nathon Allen, clocking 44.91s.
Edose Ibadin was another debutante for the country, as he also couldn’t make it through to the semis, after he finished 6th in the men’s 800m with a time of 1:46.51s.
Team Nigeria’s quest will continue on Day 2, having Okagbare-Ighoteguonor compete in the semis, while the duo of Patience Okon-George and Yinka Ajayi will compete in the 400m Heats, as well as Glory Nathaniel in the 400m Hurdles Heat.