Nigeria’s chances of winning her first gold medal at the IAAF flagship event, the World Championships in Athletics, is on reigning Commonwealth queen of the track, Blessing Okagbare- Ighoteguonor, as the 16th edition of the championships get underway at the Olympic stadium in London this evening.
It was the first timesince September 2015 she would break 11 seconds in the event and she will be confident shehas got the momentum going for her.
So, can Nigerians and indeed Africans start counting their chickens? Can she achieve what the great Mary Onyali who ran in three consecutive 100m finals at the championships between 1991 and 1995 failed to achieve?
Only three athletes have come closest to making the mark.Innocent Egbunike was the odds-on-favourite to win the 400m title in 1987 after his impressive,pre-championships performance in the circuit and came to the event in Rome as the fastest man in the world in the event.When the chips came down,he settled for a silver medal.
For Okagbare, the task may look less herculean unlike in the 100m but she will have to leap farther than the 6.77m personal season’s best she jumped last month in Hungary or even the 6.99m that fetched her silver medal behind Britney Reese four years ago in Moscow where she lost the gold by 2cm.
She is also the second fastest African of all time in the event after compatriot Glory Alozie and looks a good bet for a place in the final in her first trip to the championships.