Blessing Okagbare is the fastest woman in the history of track and field in Nigeria. Her 10.79 seconds run in 2013 in London conferred on her the title.
But do you know she is not the first woman to run under 11 seconds? Do you also know there are two more sprinters who ran under 11 seconds before the University of Texas in El Paso graduate (UTEP)?
Complete Sports’ DARE ESAN takes a look at the four women in history who have ran inside 11 seconds donning the green and white colours of Nigeria and another four who have broken 11.10 seconds in the Nigerian all-time list.
Blessing Okagbare (10.79)
Arguably the greatest sprinter Nigeria has ever produced, Okagbare stormed the Nigeria 100m scene in 2009 in Abuja where she ran 11.16 seconds to win her first of seven national blue ribband titles.
That feat, especially the way she eased down in the last 30 metres and the slight headwind (-0.1mps) she ran into gave a hint that the new queen of the track is ready to reign for a long time.
The following year,the tall and beautiful University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) undergraduate student broke 11.10 seconds thrice, signalling her first sub- 11 seconds performance was just a matter of time.
Blessing however failed to fulfil expectations of a sub-11 seconds performance in 2011 albeit she improved her personal best to 11.01 seconds.
It was in 2012,the year of the Olympics she finally came of age,running inside 11 seconds four times (10.99,10.96,10.93,10.92), a feat no Nigerian sprinter has ever performed.
Then came 2013, the magical year for the Sapele-born sprinter,the year she made history thrice.She served notice of what to expect as early as June when she ran a wind-aided 10.75 seconds to place second at the Prefontaine Diamond League meeting in Eugene,Oregon, USA.
Exactly 27 days later,she became the first woman in Nigeria (and Africa) to break (legally) 10.90 seconds in the 100m event when she ran 10.86 seconds to win her semi-final heat and book a lane in the final at the London Diamond League (London Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games) meeting.
Barely 70 minutes later, she made history again by becoming the first woman in Africa to run inside 10.80 seconds when she raced to a 10.79 seconds finish,two hundreth of a second faster than the African record she had set on the same track that
That year, Okagbare ran under 11 seconds thrice and ended the year as the fastest ever pair of legs the African continent has ever seen (until the following year when Ivorian,Muriel Ahoure ran a 100th of a second faster,110.98 to claim the African
Okagbare ran 11 more times under 11 seconds for an unassailable total of 19 (2014-3,2015-6,2017-1 and 2018-1) to cement her place in history as (so far) the greatest sprinter that ever came out of Africa.
Glory Alozie (10.90)
Alozie became the fastest woman in Nigeria on June 5,1999 after running inside 11 seconds for the first and only time in her career.
Her 10.90 seconds best bettered Mary Onyali’s seven year old 10.97 seconds record by seven hundredth of a second. The petite sprint hurdler had served notice of dipping inside 11 seconds early in the outdoor season that year when she raced to a then 11.01 personal season’s best in May.
And when she got into full gear later that month, breaking her first 13 seconds of the season (12.73) in her speciality, the 100m hurdles in Athens, it was only a matter of time before Onyali’s record became history. And on June 5 in Laguna, Tenerife, she became the second Nigerian woman in history to break 11 seconds in the 100m event.
Mary Onyali (10.97)
Is Mary Onyali the greatest sprinter Nigeria has ever produced? The answer was a no brainer until a certain Blessing Okagbare accidentally made her way to the sprint events from the triple and long jump pits.
Onyali dominated the Nigeria sprint scene from the mid-1980s to early 2000s,winning 11 national 100m titles (the most by any Nigerian female sprinter).She ran her first of two sub-11 seconds in the blue ribband event at the World Championships in
Stuttgart, Germany in 1993.
The then 25-year old raced home first ahead of Russia’s Irina Privalova at the quarter-final stage,stopping the clock at 10.97 seconds,the first sub-10 seconds performance by an African woman!.
She raced all the way to the final of the event (her second of three appearances in the history of the
championships),finishing fifth (11.05 seconds).
Onyali however had to wait for six more years before she was able to break 11 seconds again,running 10.99 seconds in August 2000 in Switzerland.
She signed off on the track on a high,winning the 100m gold at the 2003 African Games in Abuja.
Damola Osayomi (10.99)
Damola may have been the third Nigerian woman to race in the 100m final at the World Championships (2007) but it took her four more years to break 11 seconds in the event.
She ran 10.99 seconds in Sao Paulo in Brazil in May 2011 and it was the only time she legally dipped inside 11 seconds. The feat did not however conferred on her the title of national record holder as Glory Alozie’s 10.90 seconds best was not bettered by Osayomi.
However,her sub-11 seconds performance that year was the 10.90 seconds she ran in Maputo to win the
100m gold at the African Games in a Nigerian sweep of all three medals but it was aided by an excessive (+2.5mps) tail wind which rendered it illegal.
Her first attempt at running a sub- 11 seconds came in 2008 when she ran 11.08 seconds twice on her way to winning the 100m gold at the Beijing Olympic trials in Abuja.
Mercy Nku (11.03):
Mercy is the fifth fastest Nigerian in the 100m all-time list following the 11.03 seconds she ran to win the blue ribband title at the African Games in Johannesburg,South Africa in 1999.
That was the year she became the second Nigerian nay African woman to run in the final of the 100m event at the IAAF (World
Athletics) World Championships.
Her only sub-11 seconds performance (10.98 seconds) achieved the same year was rendered illegal by a +2.6mps tail wind in Rieti, Italy. She won the national 100m title in 2002.
Endurance Ojokolo (11.06)
Nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’,Endurance bulldozed her way to national 100m reckoning in 1997,three years after winning two gold medals (Long jump and 4x100m) and a silver medal (4x400m) at the African U-20 Championships in 1994.
She disappeared from the radar after her U-20 conquests only to return to national glory in the 100m in 1997,her first of seven titles.
Thrice a World Indoor 60m finalist,Endurance raced to her 11.06 seconds all-time best in Zurich in 2001 to become the sixth fastest Nigeria woman ever in the blue ribband event.
Christy Opara-Thompson (11.07)
Whenever the story of Nigeria’s historic 4x100m silver medal win at the 1992 Olympics is told,Christy’s name will always pop up as the lady who handed the baton to anchor leg runner, Mary Onyali enroute to the win and iconic celebrations that
She however waited till the twilight of her career before speeding to an 11.07 seconds lifetime best in Glabberk,Germany in 1997. She is Nigeria’s joint record holder (7.02 seconds) over the 60m and raced in the Nigerian quartet that came fourth in the 400m relay at the 1991 World championships in Tokyo,Japan.
Beatrice Utondu (11.08)
Like Opara-Thompson,Utondu was the lead off runner for the Barcelona ’92 quartet that won a 4x100m silver. Utondu ran her 11.08 seconds lifetime best in Nigeria,racing home first in the first semifinal of the blue ribband event at the World (Mobil) Championships Trial at the National Stadium in Surulere,Lagos.Copyright © 2020 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.