Team Nigeria’s medal hopeful at the 2015 IAAF World Championships, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor is through to the final of the Women’s 100m.
Okagbare-Igho – out of her block in decent time – maintained her stride down the lane to place second behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in 10.89secs, seven hundredth seconds behind the Jamaican favourite.
The Commonwealth champion, 26, is the only African in this year’s final as Moscow 2013 silver medalist and Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure failed to claim a slot in Monday’s showdown, following a fourth-placed finish in Heat 2.
Nine women ran sub-11 times in the semi-finals – including Ahoure, whose 10.98secs missed out on a final berth by just a hundredth of a second.
What the stats say: Okagbare-Igho remains an outside candidate for a podium finish in the 100m, but must upstage winners of the semi-finals Heat 2 and Heat 3, Tori Bowie of the United States and the Netherlands Dafne Schippers respectively.
Schippers’ 10.83secs (National Record) finish and Bowie’s 10.87secs time were the second and third best marks in their respective penultimate races, with Okagbare-Igho placing fourth in the qualifications.
Former world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown could as well stake her claim to one of the medals after clocking a Season’s Best 10.89secs in Heat 3. The other qualifiers are Trinidad and Tobago’s Kelly-Ann Baptiste – runner-up in Heat 2 in 10.90secs – and the last two fastest time finishers, Natasha Morisson of Jamaica (10.96secs) and Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago (10.97secs).
Fraser-Pryce for a third world title: Judging by the closeness of the times posted in the semi-finals, it is normal to expect Fraser-Pryce to deliver another world championship gold medal for Jamaica, but the idea of a gate crasher cannot be completely dismissed.
Shippers, a heptathlete turn sprinter – smashed her Dutch record (for as many times this year) to top Heat 3, but Sunday’s Men’s 100m final has proved that athletes had better saved their best for the big moment.
That still places Bowie among the best candidates to steal the show in the final if Fraser-Pryce fails to rise up to the ocassion.
Better still, the closeness of the semi-finals proves that there are a host of athlete ready to get their breakthroughs today.
Record-breaking Okagbare?: Okagbare-Igho could become the first Nigerian athlete to claim gold at the World Championships later on Monday, but the Nigerian must be ready to put another performance close to he feat at the 2013 London Anniversary Games, where she smashed the African Record in the 100m.