Team Nigeria’s medal hopefuls Blessing Okagbare and Mark Jelks got off to a blast in the men and women’s sprint heats on Day4 of the Commonwealth Games.
Africa’s fastest woman, Okagbare, 25, racing in heat 5, emerged quickest qualifier in a time of 11.20secs. Team England’s Asha Philip finished second in a time of 11.47secs, while Cyprus’ Ramona Papaioannou claimed third in 11.67secs.
The Delta-born athlete might have impressed with the standout performance on the start of athletics event, but she wouldn’t be the only female sprinter from Nigeria to come back for tomorrow’s semi-finals at Hampden Park, with Gloria Asumnu also putting up a fight in heat 1.
Asumnu finished second in 11.43secs behind Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell Brown, who crossed the line 14 seconds earlier. Bahraini, J. Bailey, ended up the heat’s third qualifier in 11.64secs.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old Justina Sule failed to advance into the semis, having finished 6th in heat 4 of the first round sprints.
United States-born Jelks, 30, underlined his credentials as one to watch in the men’s 100m. Jelks, who switched allegiance in 2014 to compete for his grandfather’s birth country, ahead of the USA- his own birth place- kept hopes of flourishing in the colours of the West Africans alive.
Competing in his first major championships, the IATCCC hall of fame inductee finished in 10.28secs, with Bahrain’s W. Fraser clinching runner-up berth in 10.31secs.
In the absence of the much dreaded Usain Bolt, who was unfit at the time of the Jamaican trials and “didn’t want to take anyone’s place”, Jelks, who won the All Nigeria national championships last month in 10.23secs will have to improve a great deal to be able to give England’s Adam Gemili- the quickest qualifier in 10.15secs- a test.
Mozavous Jolomi Edwards finished second behind Gemili in 10.40secs in heat 6. Home-nurtured athlete Oghenekaro Egwero also finished second in 10.38secs behind South Africa’s A Simbine (10.32secs) as all the three Nigeria male sprinters advance into Monday’s semi-finals.
In the women’s 400m heat, the trio of Regina George, Omolara Omotosho and Folashade Abugan are also through to the semi-finals.
Former world champion and Botswana’s Amantle Montsho won heat 5 in a time of 15.88 seconds, ahead of Omotosho 52.84 seconds and England’s Shana Cox (53.00 seconds) qualified third.
George qualified second in 53.92 seconds in heat 1 behind Sri Lanka’s Rasnayaka Mudiyans, who won the heat in 53.75 seconds. India’s P machettira qualified third in 54.01 seconds.
Omotosho recovered from a poor start to qualify second in 53.02secs behind Jamaica’s Stephanie McPherson, who got out of her block early before cruising the last 100m to go through in 52.25sces.