After scorching to her eighth national sprint title with an incredible 10.63secs yesterday, Blessing Okagbare has announced her readiness to battle for a silverware at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next month.
Okagbare who is Africa’s previous record holder at 10.79secs in the women’s 100m created a buzz on the opening day of the 2021 National Olympic Games Trials at the Yabatech Sports Centre yesterday when she hit the finish line in 10.63 secs to win the blue ribband event.
However, she was denied a new African recorded due to the 2.7 tail wind that aided the race.
Before the final, the University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) graduate had given a glimpse of what to expect in the final when she dusted the field in 10.99secs in the third semi final.
Another US-based athlete, Rosemary Chukwuma finished second in 11.07 while National Sports Festival winner, Grace Nwokocha was third in 11.11 seconds.
Speaking shortly after the race, Okagbare told THISDAY that she was now ready for the challenge in Tokyo 2020.
“I am now ready for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I am happy that this time came today. I have been looking forward to something like this in front of my home fans and I am glad it came today,” gushed the Olympics, World and Commonwealth Games medalist
She admitted that the last time she felt this healthy and ready was when she won double sprint gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Since the start of this season, I see myself as very ready,” stressed the Delta Star who won her first Olympic bronze medal at the Beijing Games in 2008.
That long jump medal has since been elevated to silver following the disqualification of the Russian athlete who won the silver based on dope infraction.
“I feel healthy, stronger and like the real Blessing Okagbare again. I am really happy that this time came down today. It will boost my confidence, my faith and trust in God. I just hope this same thing happen at the Olympics.
“I have been working on everything and I hope it counts at the big stage, that’s the Olympics,” observed Okagbare who celebrated the feat rolling on the floor.
With so much now expected from the current rave of the moment due to her current form, Okagbare refused to point at any medal in particular to expect from her in Tokyo.
“I was very disappointed at my last meet when I ran 11.2, I was like this is not me, so when they mentioned the trials, I said I am going to be there, not because I just want to run, but because I really want to compete and run well. “So in Tokyo, I am praying to remain in this same form and I will give my best,” concludes the former long jump medalist.
In the men’s 100m final, Enoch Adegoke blasted to the title in 10.00sec and a place in the Olympics, leaving Usheoritse Itsekiri (10.07) and Okeoghene Brume (10.09) for the silver and bronze medals .
In the absence of US-based Divine Oduduru and Raymond Ekevwo, the fans were looking up to Edo 2020 Festival duo of Alaba Akintola and Enoch Adegoke winning the trials.
Akintola however copped an injury in the semis leaving Adegoke who raced home in a new 10.00 seconds PB and in the process confirm his place in Team Nigeria’s flight to the Olympics in Tokyo.
Other opening day results saw Fatoyinbo Gbenga and Fadekemi Olude winning the 20km Race Work for both men and women respectively.