Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor is a respected name in the world of track and field, with the Nigerian track queen staying as one of the world’s best female athletes since her senior debut at the 2008 Olympic Games, where she surprisingly won a Long Jump Silver medal at just 19 years of age.
Since then, the talented athlete has gone on to have massive career lifts such as winning Long Jump Silver and 200m Bronze medals at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Russia and being crowned the 2014 Commonwealth Games Double Sprints Champion.
Thereon, it was envisaged by athletics pundits that her career was going to be on the up rise and she was a title contender at every major Championship. Unfortunately, her career took a nosedive due to series of injuries in two consecutive seasons.
First it was in 2015, when a hamstring injury sustained before the Beijing World Championships deterred her hopes of medaling, which saw her finish eighth in the finals, even though she went in as No.3 on the 100m IAAF world list.
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Year 2016 was unimpressive either, as she failed to make the finals in both the 100m and 200m at the Rio Olympic Games, thereby raising questions on her competitiveness as a medal contender.
With injury woes behind her, the seven-time National Champion proved her readiness for the 2017 season, when she raced to an impressive 200m win of 22.87s at the Texas Tech Red Raider Shoot-Out back in April.
Thereafter, she has gone on to record several Season’s Best (SB) in the 100m, with her best performance coming at the London Diamond League, where she raced to her first sub-11s in two years, clocking 10.99s to finish behind Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson and Dutchwoman Dafne Schippers. In the Long Jump she also has a SB leap of 6.77m, which inevitably stamped her name to qualify for all three events in London.
With this string of impressive performances, the 29-year old has shown her intent of making her fourth appearance at the World Championships count. And when she lines up on the track on Saturday, she’ll have her eyes set on winning a 100m medal, which till date eludes her at the world’s biggest athletics competition.
But to do this the speedster has to overcome obstacles in fellow athletes that have run faster SB times, such as Double Olympic Champion, Elaine Thompson (10.71s), Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle Lee-Ahye (10.82s), 2013 World Silver Medallist Murielle Ahoure (10.83s), Olympic Silver Medallist Tori Bowie (10.94s), while not forgetting new sprints sensation Marie-Josee Ta Lou (10.90s).
While these athletes and few more may have recorded faster times this year, one cannot take away the threat that the Commonwealth Record holder poses, not after being able to stay in or close to the top three finishers in all her 100m races this season.
Also, the London Olympic Stadium, has proven to be a place where Okagbare-Ighoteuonor speeds to fast times. Her Personal Best (PB), National Record (NR) and then African Record (AR) of 10.79s set in 2013, was recorded in the same venue, not forgetting she clocked her first sub-11s in two years just last month.
These may not be enough reasons to stick out a neck in support of her medalling in London, but one thing is sure when Okagbare-Ighoteguonor gets set to race, she’s going to challenge for a podium placement with everything she’s got.
Okagbare-Ighoteguonor’s 100m Race Schedule at London 2017 World Championships
Day 2 – Saturday August 5: 100m Heats