Tag Archives: Blessing

Okagbare strikes 200m GOLD on Terrific Thursday for Team Nigeria!

1 Aug

It was a glorious night for Team Nigeria on Thursday at Hampden Park in Glasgow as TWO GOLD medals were won in Athletics in the space of 15 minutes of each other, first with Ese Brume claiming a brilliant GOLD medal in the Long Jump, and Blessing Okagbare taking to the track immediately after to complete a dominant Commonwealth sprint double, as she triumphed in the 200m in a time of 22.25s to add to the 100m title she won on Monday! Team England occupied the 2nd, 3rd and 4th as Jodie Williams, Bianca Williams and Anyika Onuora all set new PBs, with the Jamaicans surprisingly occupying three of the last four positions for a change:

Blessing started the 200m as the overwhelming championship favourite, going by her standing as the No.1 in the Commonwealth with a PB of 22.23s this season, as well as being the Diamond Race leader. She dominated the heats on with the fastest time (22.99s) and was phenomenal in the semi-final where she won comfortably in 22.43s – she looked in the kind of form that could possibly break the Games Record (22.20s) or even the African Record (22.07s). Though she was unable to get the Games Record as she did in the 100m, winning her first global titles in such dominant fashion has truly re-affirmed Blessing’s pedigree as a possible future World and Olympic Champion.

The future certainly looks bright for Blessing, who is still No. 3 on Nigeria’s all-time list for the 200 metres, behind Mary Onyali (22.07s) and Falilat Ogunkoya (22.22s). She will certainly have plenty of opportunities in the years to come to become Nigeria’s and Africa’s fastest ever over the 200m, and we can now look forward with excitement towards the 2015 World Championships and the 2016 Olympics. Okagbare’s existing and emerging rivalries are set to make the women’s sprints a tantalising prospect over the next two years – will Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce rediscover the form that saw her win the sprint double at the World Championships last year? Will USA’s Tori Bowie, the fastest woman in the world this year in both sprints continue her phenomenal progression, having only just recently switched from the Long Jump? Exciting times lay ahead!

On Friday and Saturday, Blessing will most likely return to the track as part of Nigeria’s 4×100 team, in a quest to grab Team Nigeria’s first global sprint relay medal since the Beijing ’08 Olympics! A quartet which included Okagbare and Gloria Asumnu came within a hundredth of a second of winning a Bronze medal at the inaugural World Relays in the Bahamas in May, and they will be looking to go at least one better at these Games! Can she lead Team Nigeria to another medal before the week runs out? We won’t have long to find out!

 

Blessing Okagbare opts out of Long Jump to chase 200m GLORY @ C’wealth Games!

30 Jul

Blessing Okagbare fans could well be in for a treat and a complete spectacle in the women’s 200m at the Commonwealth Games, as the newly crowned 100m Commonwealth Champion is the red hot favourite to complete the sprint double with the 200 metre crown on Thursday night! Such is Blessing’s class beyond the rest of the Commonwealth field in the 200m, that it may simply be Blessing versus the clock. She took Debbie Ferguson’s 100m Commonwealth Games Record on Monday night, and may just take the same woman’s 200m Games Record (22.20s) on Thursday. The big question is: does Blessing just want the GOLD, or does she want to lay down a marker for years to come, by attacking Mary Onyali’s 18-year-old 200m African Record of 22.07 seconds?

Okagbare has been imperious form in the 200m this year, having made it her event of focus recently, despite starting out as a long jumper and then a 100m sprinter. She is 2nd fastest in the world this year with a PB of 22.23s, behind USA’s Tori Bowie (22.18s), she holds FOUR of the 10 fastest times this season and is leading the 200m Diamond Race. Her closest Commonwealth  competitor is Anthonique Strachan, the 2012 Double World Junior Champion and 9th fastest in the world this year with 22.50s, but she has inexplicably not been entered for the 200m – one imagines it could only be due to injury:

2014 CWG Womens 200 list FINAL

That leaves her main threat once again most likely to come from the Jamaicans – McLaughlin, Henry-Robinson and Calvert, who are 6th, 11th and 13th respectively in the Commonwealth this season, but ALL half a second slower than Okagbare. England’s Jodie Williams is the fastest Commonwealth athlete after Blessing competing in the 200m, after setting a PB of 22.60s this season, and while Williams will be a home nations favourite for a medal, she will almost certainly be fighting with the Jamaicans for Silver and Bronze!

An interesting sub-plot is Dominique Duncan’s first outing in an individual event for Nigeria, after switching from Team USA and coming within a hundredth of second to 4x100m Bronze at the World Relays with Team Nigeria! She’s No. 10 in the Commonwealth this year with a PB of 22.82s in April, and if she can replicate that she could also be in amongst the medals. That said, she only ran 23.91s in placing 3rd at the Nigerian Trials in June, so it will be interesting to see what kind of form she is coming into the Games with!

Some Okagbare fans will be disappointed to learn that she opted NOT to compete in the Long Jump at these Games – her compatriot Ese Brume competed in the Heats for that event on Wednesday morning, qualifying for the finals which will take place on Thursday evening, in between the women’s 200 metres semis and finals! From a scheduling point of view, it would have been virtually impossible for Okagbare to attempt TWO 200m races and SIX jumps in the Long Jump on the same night! She has taken the wisest decision, as the sprint double will be the far more widely recognised feat than the 100m and Long Jump combination!

One might recall that last year, Blessing failed to win a 100m medal in the World Championship final because she had taken 6 jumps the night before to win Long Jump Silver, and didn’t have enough time to recover to successfully execute two rounds of the 100m the next day. Clearly, the ‘scheduling gods’ are not working in her favour – global meet organisers will have to accord her the same privilege that they once showed to the likes of Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson, arranging their schedules around these superstars, if we’re ever going to see her attempt to go for THREE individual medals at major competitions!

Blessing is already Africa’s fastest woman ever in the 100m after smashing Glory Alozie’s 14-year-old record last year. The big question on Thursday will be, does she want a ‘Double Portion’ and take the 200m African Record as well? With her 10.85 second 100-metre speed in awesome display on Monday, something tells us that if Blessing decides she wants to re-write the 200 metre history books on Thursday night, she just might!

MoC PREDICTION: Barring injury, Nigeria’s favourite daughter Blessing Okagbare will WIN 200m GOLD on Thursday night, and could get the Commonwealth Games Record of 22.20s, but she might not yet be ready to break Mary Onyali’s African Record (22.07s). Even if she doesn’t get the record, we may  be about to witness the BIGGEST EVER winning margin in a global 200m final, since a certain Usain Bolt, ofcourse!

Dominique Duncan should make the final of the 200 metres, and getting a medal would be a huge boost for the 24-year-old. But can she put three rounds of 200 metres together in two days and run fast enough in the final to be in medal contention? The honest truth is that we have not seen enough of her to make a firm prediction on that just yet!

Round 1 of the Commonwealth Games 200 metres kicks off TONIGHT (Wednesday), with Blessing Okagbare in Heat 1 at 9.15pm and Dominique Duncan in Heat 6 at 9.45pmDON’T MISS IT!

The semi-finals start at 6.07pm on Thursday, with the Final shortly after at 8.45pm!

 

 

Okagbare faces stiff test for 100m Commonwealth GOLD, Asumnu is a possible finalist!

26 Jul

Exactly 20 years ago, one of the country’s most outstanding athletes, Mary Onyali returned a time of 11.06secs to win the women’s 100m at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, and Nigeria’s sprint queen, Blessing Okagbare will be aiming for same as Athletics takes off in Glasgow on Sunday.

However, Okagbare, who is the nation’s brightest prospect at the games, will have her work cut out for her as she goes head-to-head with Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye and Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown in a bid to secure her first Commonwealth Games title two decades after a Nigerian last won the crown.

Compatriot, Damola Osayomi won the 100m in Delhi four years ago but had to be stripped of the medal and banned after her doping test came back positive for the stimulant methylhexanamine, while Natasha Mayers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was elevated to first position.

Okagbare recently ran a Season’s Best (SB) of 10.97secs at the Monaco Diamond League, but Ahye is unbeaten in the 100m this season, as is  USA’s Tori Bowie, who currently World Leader this year with 10.80secs. Ahye tops the Commonwealth ranking with the world’s second fastest time of 10.85s, while Campbell-Brown follows closely with 10.86s:

2014 CWG Womens 100 list copy

Even though Okagbare comes to the competition with the third fastest time, she could still storm to gold at the Hampden Park on Monday if she is able to rediscover the form that saw her lower the African 100m record to 10.79s – that time would almost certainly claim GOLD but given that Blessing has been concentrating on the 200 metres this season, this might have had an effect on both her speed and her confidence to claim the 100m crown!

Fellow Nigerian Gloria Asumnu also looks like a good bet for the 100m final as she occupies the 13th position in Commonwealth with a time of 11.15secs – even though EIGHT of the athletes ahead of her are Jamaican, only 3 of them can compete at the Games!

MoC PREDICTION: Our heart say GOLD for Blessing, but our head says it will be Silver or Bronze in the 100 metres. Gloria will do well to get to the final, but a medal will be out of her reach, unless she can run a PB and go under 11 seconds.

The good news is, with these two in our 4x100m team, they should be in good shape for a Relay medal next weekend! (Silver or Bronze – Jamaica will get the GOLD, unless they drop the baton or are disqualified)!

 

Okagbare slips in Lausanne 100m, but returns for the Paris Diamond League 200m tomorrow!

4 Jul

Blessing Okagbare’s much awaited return to Diamond League action in Lausanne last night proved to be an anti-climax, as she stumbled out of her blocks and opted not to finish the race, as it was clear that she had lost it in the first few strides. Trinidad & Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye, who is quickly emerging as Blessing’s main rival for the 100m Commonwealth GOLD, took full advantage and raced to victory in 10.98 seconds, with Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahouré second in a photo finish with the same time! Following the the late withdrawals of Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and USA’s Tori Bowie from the race, the path had seemed clear for an Okagbare victory, but her slip put paid to those hopes, though after her trip she would have been more concerned with staying injury-free rather than finishing the race – and rightly so!

The biggest story of the night was undoubtedly the men’s 100 metres, which saw the return of Tyson Gay from his well-publicised 1 year drug ban, a punishment that many in the Athletics world have felt was too lenient. Tyson Gay ran 9.93s on his return, placing second in an American 1-2-3, with Justin  Gatlin winning with a new world leading (WL) time this season of 9.80s and Mike Rodgers third in 9.98s – ALL THREE of them have served drug bans at some stage of their careers! Kirani James and LeShawn Merritt continued their intriguing 400m rivalry, with James coming out on top this time in 43.74s (a new WL, PB and National Record for Grenada!), with Merritt 2nd in an Season’s Best (SB) of 43.92s. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake finished  a disappointing 6th in the 200m in 20.48s, with Panama’s Alonso Edward winning in 19.84s (SB), while Qatar’s Nigerian-born Femi Ogunode was 5th in 20.25s.

Thankfully, Okagbare fans will not have to wait long to see her in action again, as she will appear in the 200 metres at the Paris Diamond League tomorrow (Saturday July 5th)! Once again, it is a loaded field and Blessing will to be on the very top of her game to best the likes of USA’s Multiple World and Olympic 200m Champion, Alyson Felix and Jamaica’s Current 200m World Champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, though the latter has struggled for form this season. Tori Bowie is also on the start-list in Paris, and she will certainly be a threat to Okagbare’s hopes of winning this – one might recall that in her very first Diamond League 200m race after switching events from the Long Jump, Bowie shocked Okagbare and the rest of the field from Lane 1 in Eugene!

In other events holding at the ‘Meeting Areva’ in the Stade de France tomorrow, Okagbare has again opted not to participate in the long jump event that will see the likes of reigning Olympic and World champion, Brittney Reese, Tianna Bartoletta and Funmi Jimoh (all of USA). Former 400m World champion, Amantle Montsho, is still trying to find her best form this season (SB 50.37s) and will race in the keenly contested women’s 400m, alongside USA’s Olympic Champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who has run sub-50 this season (SB 49.66s), as well as Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills, who has posted an impressive time of 50.05s this season.

There is an interesting inclusion in the men’s 100m as a British athlete with Nigerian roots, Chijindu Ujah, is set to make his Diamond League debut. The 100m Champion at the 2013 European Junior Championships recently broke the 10 second barrier with a time of 9.96sec in Hengelo, Holland last month, making him the third fastest Brit in history! He will go against the world’s fastest man this season, Richard Thompson (9.82s) from Trinidad and Tobago, and the likes of veteran former World Champion Kim Collins and the Jamaican trio of Nickel Ashmaede, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nesta Carter!

For Nigerian viewers, SuperSport 6 (DSTV Channel 206) will show the Meeting Areva (Paris Diamond League) LIVE from 7-9pm on Saturday July 5th. Blessing Okagbare goes in the women’s 200 metres at 7.42pm – Don’t miss it!

 

2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar

Doha, QAT – 9 May

Shanghai, CHN – 18 May

Eugene, USA – 31 May

Rome, ITA – 5 Jun

Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun

New York, USA – 14 Jun

Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul

Paris, FRA – 5 Jul

Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul

Monaco, MON – 18 Jul

Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug

Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug

Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug

Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep

 

 

Blessing sets new 200m PB of 22.23s, but finishes 2nd to Bowie’s shock victory!

1 Jun

Ever-improving Nigerian track star Blessing Okagbare ran a new Personal Best of 22.23 seconds in the women’s 200 metres, to take 2nd place at the Eugene leg of the Diamond League on Saturday. In a stacked race that included the likes of World Champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Olympic Champion Alyson Felix and World Championship Silver Medallist Murielle Ahoure, Okagbare was beaten only by USA’s Tori Bowie, more renowned as a Long Jumper, who claimed her first 200 metre victory of note from lane ONE in a new PB of 22.18s! Alyson Felix announced her return from injury with a fine 3rd place in 22.44s, with Ahoure in 4th with 22.66s, and Fraser-Pryce surprisingly finishing in last place with 23.08s! Okagbare finished strongly, pulling away from the rest of the field, but ran out of track to overhaul Bowie who had come off the bend in the lead!

Skip to the 4th video in this playlist to view the race: 

Blessing has been in fine form this season – she’s run the 100m in an 11.19 second win in Jamaica and an 11.18 second 2nd place in Doha behind Fraser-Pryce, while she claimed 200m and Long Jump victories on the same night in Shanghai a couple weeks ago (it would seem that she opted out of the Long Jump here in Eugene). But Tori Bowie will have sent a strong message to her fellow Long Jumper and the rest of the 200 metre field – she may have just announced her arrival as a top class sprinter and possible medallist in the coming years. With the USA not participating in the Commonwealth, Blessing is still looking good for GOLD in the 200 metres at the Games in July, but it will be interesting to see how Fraser-Pryce bounces back from her poor performance in this race!

Okagbare will be pleased to retain her 200 metre Diamond Race lead with an extra 2 points from her 2nd place finish, which takes her up to 6 points, while Tori Bowie moves to 4 points with her win. Next stop in the Diamond League’s women’s 200m will be in Oslo on June 11th, but don’t bet against seeing Okagbare line up for the 100 metres in Rome on June 6th – with her assault on the Diamond Races of 3 different events (100m, 200m, Long Jump), she is undoubtedly the Diamond League’s busiest athlete!

Can Blessing break Mary Onyali’s 18 year-old African 200 metre Record of 22.07 seconds, this season? Don’t bet against it – she already took the 100m African Record last year!

Be sure to follow @MakingOfChamps on Twitter & Instagram and like us on Facebook for all your Diamond League updates this season, including TV schedules, live twitter, instagram & facebook updates, with a special focus on athletes representing Nigeria!

2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar

Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep

 

athletic heat

The best of Nigerian Athletics

MAKING OF CHAMPIONS

Lifting The Lid On How CHAMPIONS Are Made In Track & Field!!!

Voomfootball

Premier League news, features and tactical analysis

PeregrineReads

A blend of Creativity and Passion...

Sports with Enee

A personal commentary of sports issues in Nigeria and the world

Sports with Enee

A personal commentary of sports issues in Nigeria and the world

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.