Reigning Commonwealth queen of the track Blessing Okagbare will be hoping for another slice of history when the 16th edition of the IAAF flagship event, the World Championships, get underway at the Olympic Stadium in London on Friday.
Okagbare, silver (long) and bronze (200m) bronze medal winner four years ago in Moscow, Russia, where she made history as the first Nigerian to win two medals at the same championships, will be hoping to become the first Nigerian to win a sprint medal.
The closest Nigeria came was Olusoji Fasuba’s fourth place finish in 2007 at the Naggai Stadium in Osaka, Japan but Okagbare will relish her chances of surpassing that feat following her late return to form.
The six-time Nigeria 100m champion ran her first sub-11 seconds 100m race (10.99 seconds) last month at the IAAF Diamond League meeting at the Olympic Stadium in London, venue of the championships.
It was the first time since September 2015 she would break 11 seconds in the event and she will be confident she has got the momentum going for her.
Okagbare will also be banking on the fast track at the Olympic Stadium which has proved to be a good ground for her as it was on the same track in 2013 that she became the first Nigerian and African woman to run a sub-10.80 seconds (10.79 seconds) in the 100m.
Meanwhile Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Ibrahim Gusau, has charged the athletes to stay clear of performance-enhancing drugs while assuring them the federation under his leadership will ensure their welfare comes first at all times.
Gusau who bankrolled the team’s trip to the championships is optimistic the future is bright for track and field in Nigeria.
“I am delighted to be attending my first World Championships as AFN President and I want to assure you that we shall ensure there is competition at home for athletes to enable them improve on their performances and have the chance to compete against the very best in the world,” Gusau told said.
Gusau is confident the programmes the federation under his watch will roll out for next season will make positive impacts in the lives of the athletes.
“We have plan for training programmes for our coaches and as we improve their capacity they in turn will produce athletes that can be reckoned with in continental and global athletics.”