The reigning Commonwealth double sprints champion, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor opened her 2018 season on a record breaking one, shattering Mary Onyali’s 22-year old 200m African Record of 22.07, with a new mark of 22.04 (+0.5) at the ACU Wes Kittley Invitational in Abilene, Texas, on Saturday 24 March.
Okagbare's time surpassed her personal best of 22.23 which was set back in 2014, and now stands as a new Nigerian record and a 2018 World Lead, making her the fastest 200m runner in the world so far this year.
Former Nigerian and African record-holder and Olympic 200m bronze medallist from Atlanta 1996, Mary Onyali was ecstatic that it was her compatriot who broke her record.
"Thank you God for answered prayers. I am happy that Blessing made my prayers to come to pass, because I had always wanted a Nigerian to break my record. May God bless your heart my dearest sister and friend,” Onyali said.
This will serve as a huge confidence boost for Okagbare, who has had injury woes in the past four years, which affected her performances at top level and being rated among the best, especially after she lost her 100m African record to Cote D’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahoure back in 2016.
With the 2018 Commonwealth Games just a week away, the question remains whether the Nigerian will do the double again or just stick to the 200m, where she’s expected to have stiff competition from Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson and Britain’s Dina Asher Smith.
Meanwhile, the 2018 African senior championships in her home state of Delta this August will also be a captivating championship to watch out for, where Okagbare will have the Ivorian duo of Murielle Ahoure and Marie-Josee Ta Lou and South Africa’s Carina Horn to contend with over the 100m and 200m.
Whatever the case may be, it’s glaring that Okagbare’s best days are not behind her, and she’s definitely back to take her place among the best sprinters in the world.
Okagbare’s 200m Career Progression
- 2008 - 23.76
- 2010 - 22.71
- 2011 - 22.94
- 2012 - 22.63
- 2013 - 22.31
- 2014 - 22.23
- 2015 - 22.67
- 2016 - 22.58
- 2017 - 22.87
- 2018 - 22.04 (AR, NR & PB)
🇳🇬#Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (@mountain214) steps up preparation for @GC2018 with an #AfricanRecord 22.04 (+0.5) to win Women’s 200m at ACU Wes Kittley Invitational in Abilene, Texas, bettering the old record by Evette de Klerk🇿🇦 (22.06A/1989) & Mary Onyali🇳🇬 (22.06/1996) pic.twitter.com/2yhZVzdEDD
— AthleticsAfrica 🌍 (@athleticsafrica) March 25, 2018
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