The 15th edition of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship, will begin in Beijing this Saturday with Nigeria,led by sprinter, Blessing Okagbare hoping to make strong and indelible marks.
Complete Sports’ Dare Esan, who will be covering his seventh championship (Athens, Greece 97; Seville, Spain ’99, Edmonton, Canada 2001,Paris, France 2003,Osaka, Japan 2007, Berlin,Germany 2009 and Moscow, Russia,2013) takes a look at Nigeria’s participation in each of the past 14 editions,highlighting the headline performances by the athletes…
HELSINKI 1983: IST IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Host city:Helsinki, Finland
Dates:August 7–14, 1983
Main venue:Helsinki Olympic Stadium
Agbeebeaku Jumps Into History
Fresh from his conquest in the Triple Jump event at the World University Games at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) in July 1983, Ajayi Agbebaku was one of the firm favourites for a podium appearance at the inaugural World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, and the Nigerian did not disappoint.
At Helsinki, he became the first Nigerian athlete to win an individual medal at the flagship event of the IAAF.
This feat did not, however, come as a stroll in the park. Agbebaku jumped into bronze medal position with his last jump of the event. He had been in fifth place behind USA’s Mike Conley, who jumped 17.13m in the third round, to move into bronze medal position and Vlastimil Marinec of Czechoslovakia who moved into fourth behind Conley, even though he also jumped 17.13m.
The Nigerian lad, however, reserved his best for last as he threw himself unto the podium with a 17.18m leap, same as USA’s Willie Banks. The American however won on count back with his third round effort. Agbebaku had, in the qualifying rounds, put himself up as one of the favourites for the three medals on offer with his 16.80m jump to top his qualification group (A). It was the second best jump in the qualifying round, bettered only by Conley’s 16.90m effort in group B.
What makes Agbebaku’s feat more memorable was that the quartet of Chidi Imoh, Yusuf Ali, Innocent Egbunike and Sunday Uti failed to translate their students’ games triumph onto the bigger stage that Helsinki provided at the IAAF Worlds. Of the four, only Egbunike and Ali made it to the final.
ROME 1987:2ND IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Host city:Rome, Italy
Dates:August 28 – September 6, 1987
Main venue:Stadio Olimpico
Egbunike Fulfils Expectations
Innocent Egbunike fulfilled expectations of a podium appearance in his second appearance at the IAAF World Championships in Rome, racing to a silver-medal finish in the men’s 400m.Four years earlier, in his debut at the inaugural edition of the championships, he ran all the way into the 200m final, placing sixth (20.63) in the process.
In Rome, however, Egbunike came to the championships as the second fastest man in the event behind USA’s Harry Butch Reynolds (44.10) following his 44.17 seconds run in Zurich at the Weltklasse Grand Prix and also as All Africa Games champions.
The Nigerian ran the fastest time in the semi-finals (44.26) to qualify for the final and became the man to beat, especially after Reynolds, who had clocked a total of eight sub 44.50 seconds prior to the championships, was weakened by intestinal problems and struggled to make the final. The only other identifiable obstacle in front of the Nigerian was Germany’s Thomas Schonlebe, who placed second behind Egbunike in the first semi-finals. However in pre-championships circuit, Schonlebe had remained unbeaten all-season.
Egbunike, running in lane 7, stormed out of the blocks like bullet and was chased by Schonlebe for over 300m before the tall German, who had finished fifth four years earlier in Helsinki, over-powered the Nigerian with about 60m left to go, finishing in 44.33.Egbunike was second in 44.56 while pre-championships favourite, Reynolds placed third in 44.80 seconds.
In the men’s triple jump, Joseph Taiwo ensured a consecutive final appearance for Nigeria following Ajayi Agbebaku’s bronze-winning feat in Helsinki four years earlier. While Agbebaku failed to build on his historic jump in Helsinki, after crashing out in the qualifying round, Taiwo jumped 16.63m to make it to his first final where his wind-aided first round leap of 17.29m ensured he ended the championships as the sixth best triple jumper in the world.
Yusuf Ali also made it to his second consecutive long jump final but, like the first, he couldn’t make it to the podium. He finished 11th in Rome, three steps lower than his eighth-placed finish in Helsinki four years earlier. Also in the final with him was Paul Emordi, whose leap of 7.80m placed him 16th in the final classification.
Interestingly, Emordi’s qualifying round delivery (8.14m) and not Ali’s (8.09m) had raised hopes of a possible podium appearance for Nigeria.
Rome also saw the emergence of Mary Onyali and Falilat Ogunkoya. The duo, together with Tina Iheagwan, won medals a year earlier in Athens, Greece at the inaugural IAAF World Junior championships. Iheagwan won the 100m gold while Ogunkoya picked the 200m title in Athens. Onyali was disqualified in the 100m and placed second behind Ogunkoya in the 200m.
But in Rome, it was Onyali that made it to the final of the 200m while Ogunkoya fell at the semi-final stage.
TOKYO 1991:3RD IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Tokyo, Japan
Dates:August 23 – September 1
Main venue:Olympic Stadium
Boys To Men
For the first time in three appearances, Nigeria failed to make it to the podium in Tokyo albeit as many as four individuals and three relay teams made it to the finals. What the country could not get in terms of medals, however, she made up for with four African records set by Olapade Adeniken in the 200m (20.30); the men’s 4x100m relay team who set the record twice (38.44 seconds in the semi-final and 38.43 seconds in the final); the women’s 4x100m team (42.77 seconds) and the women’s 4x400m team which set the record twice (3:26.29 seconds in the semi-final and 3;24.45 seconds in the final) as well as the emergence of a new breed of junior internationals like Davidson Ezinwa and Fatimah Yusuf, who made their debut at the senior level.
A year earlier in Plovdiv, Bulgaria at the third IAAF World Junior championships, Ezinwa won the 100m gold and 200m silver while Yusuf picked the 400m gold. In Tokyo, both couldn’t go beyond the semi-final stage in their respective events, but greatly helped the relay teams to the finals.
Ezinwa anchored the 4x100m relay team comprising himself, George Ogbeide, Olapade Adeniken and Victor Omagbemi to a new African record and fourth place in the final, Nigeria’s best showing in the event until 1997 in Athens when Ezinwa, again, anchored the team to a silver medal finish.
Yusuf was, however, the lead-off runner for the women’s 4x400m relay team comprising also of Mary Onyali, Airat Bakare and Charity Opara which placed fifth in the final with a new African record.
The women’s 4x100m team also made it to the final. Anchored by 100m finalist, Onyali and comprising also of Beatrice Utondu, Rufinah Ubah and Christy Opara-Thompson, the team ran an African record time to place fourth in the final.
Adeniken and Onyali topped the list of four individuals who made it to the finals of their respective events. Others are Adewale Olukoju, whose 59.44m throw could only fetch him the 11th spot, the same position Christy Opara-Thompson’s 6.28m leap at the long jump pit fetched her.
Adeniken on his part raced all the way to the final after setting a new 20.30 seconds African record in the qualifying round. In the final he came in fifth (20.51) after failing to match his first round performance.
Like Adeniken, Onyali also failed to improve on the 11.10 seconds performance she put up at the semi-final stage as she ran 11.39 to place seventh in her first of three consecutive appearances in the blue ribband event final.
STUTTGART 1993:4TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Stuttgart, Germany
Dates:August 13 – August 22
Main venue:Gottlieb Daimler Stadium
Bada, OnYali Race To Personal Glory
Although Nigeria failed to make it to the podium for the second straight championship, Stuttgart would forever remain evergreen in the memories of quartermiler, Sunday Bada (now late) and sprinter, Mary Onyali. The duo ran new lifetime bests in the 400m and 100m respectively.
Bada, fresh from his 400m silver winning feat in his debut at the IAAF World Indoor championships in March of 1993 in Indianapolis,USA was one of the athletes tipped to make the final in Stuttgart and he did not disappoint. He served notice that he has come of age when he raced to a new 44.63 seconds personal best on August 16,1993 in the second semi-final, behind Kenya’s Samson Kitur (44.34 seconds) and eventual winners, Michael Johnson of the USA (44.39 seconds).
In the final, Bada led all the way for the first 200m before the American duo of Quincy Watts and Michael Johnson took over. By the 300m mark, Johnson surged into the lead and maintained his leading position all the way to the finish line. Bada ran 45.11 seconds to settle for fifth place.
Two days earlier, Onyali had raced into a 10.97 seconds lifetime best in the 100m event as she made a back-to-back appearance in the finals of the blue ribband event. She ran 11.05 seconds to place fifth in the final.
Onyali also made it to her second 200m final at the championships and placed fifth (22.32 seconds).
The third Nigerian to make it to the final in Stuttgart was Daniel Effiong, who also achieved a landmark performance when he broke 10 seconds (9.98) to place second in the first semi-final behind USA’s Andre Cason.
In the final he ran 10.04 seconds which remains Nigeria’s best performance in the final till date to place seventh.
GOTHENBURG 1995:5TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Host city:Gothenburg, Sweden
Dates:5–13 August 1995
Main venue:Ullevi Stadium
Bada Anchors Nigeria To Bronze
Policeman Sunday Bada was Nigeria’s hero in Gothenburg following his spirited anchor-leg run to steer the 4x400m relay team of himself, Udeme Ekpeyong, Kunle Adejuyigbe and Jude Monye from a no medal position after collecting the baton from third leg runner, Monye to a bronze medal finish.
Bada ran a 44.64 split leg to ensure a reverse in position for Nigeria following two consecutive championship appearances (1991 and 1993) without a medal. It was Nigeria’s first competitive performance in the final of the event; after the team to the second edition of the championships (Moses Ugbisie, Joseph Falaye,Henry Amike and Innocent Egbunike) failed to come out for the final in Rome in 1987.
Nigeria may have won only one medal in Gothenburg, but the Ullevi stadium witnessed more Nigerians in the finals than in any other championship-before and after. As many as seven individuals made it to the final of their respective events with sprinter, Mary Onyali topping with two final appearances in the 100m (11.15 for 7th) and 200m (22.71 for fifth). It was her third consecutive appearance in the 100m finals and second in the 200m.
Olapade Adeniken also made the 100m final to become the second Nigerian sprinter to make it to the summit of the blue ribband event, running 10.20 to place seventh while Bada (45.50 for eighth) also made it to his consecutive appearance in the 400m final barely a few months after winning a consecutive silver medal at the indoor version in Barcelona .
Discus thrower, Adewale Olukoju also made it to the final, throwing 63.66m to place sixth while the duo of Fatimah Yusuf and Falilat Ogunkoya made history as the first Nigerian women to run in the final of the 400m. Yusuf placed fifth (50.70) and Ogunkoya, who was making a comeback to the sport after four-year procreation -induced absence came sixth in 50.77. Ogunkoya would go on to make the finals of the event in the three succeeding editions in Athens (1997),Seville (1999) and Edmonton (2001).
ATHENS 1997:6TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Host city:Athens, Greece
Dates:August 1–10, 1997
Main venue:Olympic Stadium
First Sprint Relay Medal And An African Record
A first ever 4x100m relay medal and an African record in the same event headlined Nigeria’s participation at the sixth edition of the championship held at the Olympic stadium in Athens.
Fresh from an impressive outing at the Atlanta Olympics a year earlier, many observers were putting their money on Team Nigeria to continue with their impressive run of a year earlier where three individual medals including an Olympic gold as well as a relay medal were won.
Wishes however refused to become horses as the major protagonists in Atlanta failed to deliver for several reasons.
In the women’s sprint events, Mary Onyali, winner of a 200m bronze at the Atlanta games put up a no-show following her decision to embrace motherhood, while injury cut short Chioma Ajunwa’s bold bid to add an individual medal at the IAAF Worlds to her rich collection of medals that included an Olympic long jump gold.
Ajunwa was on course to becoming the first Nigerian woman to win an individual medal at the IAAF Worlds when she leapt a world leading 7.01m in the qualifying round. In the final, and with her left thigh heavily strapped, she copped an injury in her very first jump which ensured she couldn’t jump above her opening leap of 5.21m. Russia’s Lyudmilla Galkina won the event with a new 7.05m world lead.
Falilat Ogunkoya also failed to build on her bronze medal feat at the Atlanta games event with the absence of defending world and Olympic champions, Marie-Jose Perec of France in the final line-up on August 4,1997. The Nigerian, who also anchored the 4x400m relay team to a silver medal finish and a new African record (3:21.04) at the Olympics a year earlier, lost steam in the final 100m to allow the quartet of Cathy Freeman (from lane one),Sandie Richards,Jearl-Miles Clark and Grit Bruer breeze past her to the finish line.
Sunday Bada also failed to fulfill expectations of a final finish in the 400m following his historic performance four months earlier in Paris, France where he won the IAAF World Indoor title. He couldn’t run beyond the semi-finals where he placed seventh (45.96).The women’s 4x400m team also failed to reproduce the form that fetched Nigeria a new African record and a silver medal a year earlier in Atlanta as the quartet of Olabisi Afolabi, Fatimah Yusuf, Doris Jacob and Falilat Ogunkoya could only place seventh with 3:30:04.
With pictures of another medal-less outing staring the Tony Urhobo-led Team Nigeria contingent in the face following the inability of the women’s 4x100m team to make it to the podium (placed seventh,43.27 in the final), Davidson Ezinwa and company came to the rescue. The men’s 4x100m team comprising of 100m finalist, Ezinwa,his twin brother, Osmond, Olapade Adeniken and 1996 IAAF World Junior 100m and 200m champion, Francis Obikwelu ran a new 37.94 seconds new African record in the semi-final. A day later, the team ran 38.07 seconds to place second and grab a silver medal.
SEVILLE 1999:7TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Seville, Spain
Dates:August 20–29, 1999
Main venue:Estadio Olímpico
Obikwelu, Alozie Race To Glory
Nigeria recorded her best performance at the championships in Seville, Spain where the duo of Francis Obikwelu and Glory Alozie raced to the podium.
For Obikwelu, who, three years earlier, showed promises of a potential king in the making when he successfully completed a sprints double at the IAAF World Junior championships in Sydney, Australia, it was a case of so near, yet so far.
The gangling sprinter raised hopes of a first ever gold for Nigeria at the championships when on Wednesday, August 25,2009, he raced to a world leading 20.84 seconds to send shivers down the spines of his adversaries, especially America’s Maurice Greene who was hoping to be the first man to successfully complete a sprints double at the championships.
In the final, Obikwelu proved to have raced his best when it didn’t matter most as a combination of factors, including fatigue, combined to relegate him to the bronze medal position behind Greene and Brazil’s Claudinei Da Silva.
Like Obikwelu, Alozie also hurdled into international reckoning at the IAAF World Juniors in Sydney where she won the 100m hurdles silver (13.30). In 1998, she was the undisputed best sprint hurdler in the world, running a new personal and African record time of 12.44 seconds. She also won the IAAF World Cup title in Johannesburg, South Africa. These remarkable feats made her one of the favourites for the gold in Seville, alongside USA’s Gail Devers and Sweden’s Lyudmila Enquist.
But in Seville, she was unable to out hurdle Devers, the two-time champions (1993 and 1995) who ran 12.37 seconds to win her third title. Alozie ran 12.44 to equal her African record to win the silver ahead of defending world and Olympic champion, Engquist who ran 12.47 seconds to take the bronze medal.
Falilat Ogunkoya made it three consecutive 400m final appearances, placing fourth, her best performance at the championships (50.03), after placing sixth in 1995 (50.77) and fifth in 1997 (50.27).
Fatimah Yusuf also made it to the 200m final, placing sixth (22.42). It was her second individual final appearance at the championships after making the 400m final four years earlier in Gothenburg, Sweden.
EDMONTON 2001:8TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Dates:August 3–12, 2001
Main venue:Commonwealth Stadium
No Podium Appearance For Nigeria
With Glory Alozie and Francis Obikwelu opting to transfer their allegiance to Spain and Portugal respectively barely a year after donning the green and white colours of Nigeria at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Nigeria’s medal hopes rested on the legs of quartermiler, Falilat Ogunkoya who made it all the way to her fourth consecutive 400m final.
Ogunkoya’s performance in the final was however hampered by a leg injury and was thus unable to finish the race. Thus evaporated Nigeria’s hopes for an individual medal at the Edmonton championships. Attention was then turned to the women’s 4x100m team which comprised of Chioma Ajunwa, Endurance Ojokolo,100m finalist, Mercy Nku and the ageless Mary Onyali, who finally made her IAAF Worlds exit after running in three 100m finals, three 200m finals as well as three 4x100m finals and one 4x400m finals.
Arguments over who should anchor the team counted against the team in the final and they could only finish fourth (originally fifth) with Onyali eventually anchoring.
The other bright spot of Team Nigeria’s performance came from Nku, who raced to her second consecutive 100m final, placing seventh following the disqualification of American sprinter, Keli White who admitted to doping violations going back to year 2000.
The Boki, Cross River-born Nku had made history two years earlier as the second Nigerian, nay African woman to run in the 100m final of the flagship event of the IAAF when she finished eighth in Seville at the seventh edition of the championship.
For the men, only Uchenna Emedolu made it to the semi-final in both the 100m and 200m events. It was Nigeria’s second worst performance in the history of the championship since the inaugural edition in 1983 in Helsinki, Finland.
PARIS 2003:9TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Saint-Denis, France
Dates:23 August – 31 August
Main venue:Stade de France
Emedolu, Aliu, Fasuba Effort Not Enough
Reigning IAAF World Cup 100m king, Uchenna Emedolu failed to transfer his prowess at the Esatdio Communidad in Madrid, Spain a year earlier to the magnificent Stade De France in Paris as he could not get into the 100m final.
The Agulu-born sprinter had raced to world glory at the 9th IAAF World Cup, winning the 100m race (10.06) in pouring rain and thereby becoming the first African man to win the blue ribband title at the gathering of continental champions. There was no rain on Monday, August 25 in Paris and the Nigerian, together with his compatriot, Deji Aliu failed to race near the podium.
They originally finished 8th and 7th respectively, until the disqualification of Dwain Chambers of Great Britain (who finished second) and USA’s Tim Montgomery (who finished fifth) for doping violations got the Nigerians elevated to sixth and fifth respectively.
Emedolu also made it to the final of the 200m where he placed eighth (20.62) to become the first Nigerian man to run in the final of the 100m/200m at the same world championship.
The duo of Emedolu and Aliu also piloted the 4x100m team completed with the duo of Deji Musa and Olusoji Fasuba to its fourth appearance in the final, placing fourth in 38.89 seconds.
Both Deji and Emedolu would later make it a Nigeria 1 and 2 with new 9.95 and 9.97 personal bests respectively in the 100m final at the All Africa Games in Abuja. Emedolu also picked the 200m title at the Games.
HELSINKI 2005:10TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Helsinki, Finland
Dates:6–14 August 2005
Main venue:Helsinki Olympic Stadium
Helsinki Return Failed To Yield A Medal
The Olympic stadium in Helsinki, Finland failed to provide a fertile platform for Nigeria’s needed end to a two championships winless streak when the IAAF World Championship made a return to its place of birth.
In 1983, Nigeria had three men in the finals of three individual events with one of them, Ajayi Agbebaku hopping, stepping and jumping into a bronze-medal finish.
But 22 years after, the stadium provided the platform for Nigeria’s worst performance in the history of the championships with no podium appearance and no individual finalist.
Nigeria’s brightest medal hopes at the championship, Olusoji Fasuba, who three months earlier in Doha, Qatar raced to a new 9.85 seconds African 100m record failed to sprint beyond the semi-finals in Helsinki. His exit effectively ended Nigeria’s hopes of making a podium appearance for a third consecutive championship.
Nigeria had only four semifinalists, Fasuba (10.18) and Uchenna Emedolu (10.16) in the men’s 100m,Godday James (46.62) in the men’s 400m and Endurance Ojokolo (11.60) in the women’s 100m.
In the relays, the men’s 4x400m team led by Sydney Olympics hero, Enefiok Udobong failed to replicate the bronze-winning feat of a year earlier at the Athens Olympics; with Udobong running a 49.44 seconds split anchor leg and a place on the plane back home instead of the final.
The men’s 4x100m team also failed to advance to the final. The quartet of Fasuba, Emedolu, Chinedu Oriala and Deji Aliu ran 39.29 to place sixth in the semifinal. The women’s 4×100 team, led by two-time 100m finalist, Mercy Nku however salvaged some pride by making it to the final, where they placed seventh with a 43.25 seconds run.
OSAKA 2007:11TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Osaka, Japan
Dates:24 August-2 Sept 2007
Main venue:Nagai Stadium
Fasuba’s Efforts Not Good Enough
Olusoji Fasuba made up for his disappointing performance of two years earlier in Helsinki, Finland by racing to the 100m final at the Nagai stadium when the IAAF World championship made its 11th stop in Osaka, Japan in 2007.
The reigning African championship and All Africa Games king ran 10.07 seconds in the final won by USA’s Tyson Gay to place fourth, Nigeria’s best ever placing in the history of the championship.
Fasuba would also lead the Nigerian 4x100m team to their fifth final since 1991. The Nigerians did not however finish the race due to baton exchange problems. The team had earlier ran 38.43 seconds in the semifinal to set a new personal season’s best.
The USA regained the World 4x100m relay title it last won in 2003, after a thrilling final with Tyson Gay becoming only the third man to win three gold medals at one World Championship.
Osaka 2007 was however not only about Fasuba as fellow sprinter, Oludamola Osayomi also carved an indelible niche for herself by becoming the third Nigerian and African woman to run in the 100m finals at the IAAF World Championship. Osayomi ran 11.26 in the final and joined the duo of Mary Onyali (1991,1993 and 1995) and Mercy Nku (1999 and 2001) to complete the list of African sprinters who have graced the 100m finals at the IAAF flagship event.
Osayomi had, like Fasuba, served notice of racing into world reckoning at the All Africa Games in Algiers two months earlier by successfully completing a sprints double, the fourth woman to accomplish such a feat after Ghanaian Alice Annum (1973) and Hannah Afriyie (1978) and compatriot, Mary Onyali (1995 and 2003).
She also led the 4x100m relay team made up of herself, Gloria Kemasuode, Endurance Ojokolo and Ene Franca Idoko to run a new personal season’s best of 43.58 seconds in the semi final of the event.
BERLIN 2009: 12TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city: Berlin, Germany
Again, No Medal From Germany
Like it was 16 years earlier at the Gottlieb-Daimler stadium in Stuttgart, Germany, Nigeria’s return to Germany, this time to the Olympic stadium in Berlin did not fetch any medal. But unlike in 1993 , when Nigeria had three individual finalists in Daniel Effiong (7th in 100m), Sunday Bada (5th in 400m) and Mary Onyali (5th in 100,200m),Berlin did not produce any individual finalist.
Instead, Nigeria had only two relay teams in the final: the men and women’s 4x400m teams.
Nigeria had hoped Olusoji Fasuba, who a year earlier had raced into history books in Ethiopia as the first man to win three back-to-back 100m titles at the African Championships in Athletics,would also become the first Nigerian man to race in two consecutive 100m finals at the IAAF World Championships. Fasuba did not however go beyond the quarterfinal stage, exiting with a 10.25 performance behind newcomer, Ogho-Oghene Egwero who ran 10.19 personal best.
Like Fasuba, Oludamola Osayomi was also expected to make it a consecutive 100m final appearance after competing in the competition as reigning African champions. However, she did not also progress beyond the quarterfinal stage.
The championships however witnessed the emergence of British-born Tosin Oke,who made his debut for Nigeria after switching allegiance from Britain to Nigeria. Although he did not go beyond the qualifying round, Oke would later win two African titles and Commonwealth Games gold for Nigeria.
High jumper, Doreen Amata, crowned the queen of the vertical jumps two years earlier in Algiers at the All Africa Games, also made her debut at the championships. But she did not make it to the final.
DAGUE 2011:13TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Daegu, South Korea
Dates:27 August – 4 September 2011
Main venue:Daegu Stadium
Okagbare, Amata Show Promises
Following her incredible winning streak in the American collegiate circuit where she crossed the finish line first in all 21 of her races and heats and won all eight jumping competitions including a 60m\100m and long jump double indoor and outdoor at the National Collegiate of Athletics Association (NCAA) championship a year earlier, Blessing Okagbare came to Daegu with a weight of expectations on her shoulder.
Nigerians were hoping the reigning triple African champions would follow in the footsteps of her predecessors, Mary Onyali, Mercy Nku and Oludamola Osayomi by becoming the fourth Nigerian nay African woman to run in the final of the 100m event at the championship. She was also expected to be the second Nigerian woman to win an individual medal at the championship after Glory Alozie. She fulfilled expectations in one and did not in the other.
In the For the former she raced to the 100m final and equalled Nigeria’s best performance by Mary Onyali (fifth place). That feat and a 6.36m in the qualifying round at the long jump pit were not enough to make her an individual medallist.
Vertical jumper, Doreen Amata also created a bit of history as the first Nigerian high jumper to grace the final of the event at the IAAF Worlds. Although she didn’t make it to the podium, she did however equal her personal best which was a national record.
MOSCOW 2013:14TH IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Host city:Moscow, Russia
Dates:10–18 August 2013
Main venue:Luzhniki Stadium
Okagbare Makes History
Sprinter cum long jumper,Blessing Okagbare returned Nigeria to the podium after a 14-year wait in a record-setting fashion.The Sapele-born sprinter won two medals-a long jump silver and a 200m bronze to become the first man or woman to win two individual medals at the same championship.She also became the first woman to win a medal in both the jumps and the sprints as well as the second Nigerian woman to win an individual medal at the championship after Glory Alozie (Seville ’99) in the high hurdles (100m hurdles).
While Okagbare was expectedly fulfilling expectations,400m runner,Regina George showed glimpses she could be the perfect replacement of Nigeria’s greatest quartermiler of all time,Falilat Ogunkoya by not only making it to the semi-finals in her debut,she also ran 50.84 seconds to become only the fifth (then) Nigerian woman to break 51 seconds in the event.