Blessing Okagbare on Thursday claimed her 7th All Nigeria 100m title as she won the Women’s 100m event with a time of 11.02secs on the first day of the All-Nigeria Championships in Sapele, Delta State.
Okagbare, who was conspicuously missing during the 2015 All-Nigeria Championships in Warri, left no one in doubt that she was back to wrestle her title from last year’s winner Gloria Asumnu.
She hinted on that when she effortlessly won her semifinal race with a time of 11.22secs.
Before Friday’s feat, Okagbare’s Championship record was 11.06 which she set when she won the 2010 edition of the All-Nigeria Championship in Calabar.
The queen of the tracks told journalists after her victory that she would not rest on her oars as she expects tougher contest in Rio.
“I am focused on myself, I am not thinking of what others are doing,” Okagbare said.
Peace Ukoh came second with 11.37sec while Gloria Asumnu finished third with 11.38secs.
Aside Okagbare, another headline performance on the opening day of the Nigeria Olympic trials came from Antwon Hicks, who set a new national record (subject to ratification by the AFN) in the 110m Men’s Hurdles event.
Hicks’ winning time of 13.27 secs supersedes the previous record in the 110m hurdles owned by Williams Erese. Erese set a time 13.42secs in the United States in 2003.
The winning time has also qualified the former American runner for the Rio Olympics where he will be donning the colours of Nigeria.
Speaking with journalists after his race, Hicks said he felt very relieved to have the Olympic standard after a couple of unsuccessful attempts.
“All year, I have been beating it (the standard) but it didn’t count because the results have been windy, this was one of my last races to get it done, and I am happy I have done just that and also set a new national record. I’m pretty sure this time will be among the top 20 times in the world at the moment,” he said.
On Friday, a keen contest is also expected in male’s race where Divine Oduduru and Egwero Ogho-Oghene already whet the appetite of fans with their 10.23 wining times in their respective heats on Thursday.
Defending champion Seyi ogunelwe also won his heat but with a slower time of 10.25secs.
In other events on Thursday, Deborah Pam NSDC won the 5,000 with 17.23.50; Olumidi Aderonke and Nuhu Elizabeth came 2nd and 3rd respectively with a time of 17.38.06 and 17.44.20 secs respectively.
In the men’s version, Emmanuel Gyang won in a time of 14.52.75secs while the duo of Stephen Joshua and Solomon Yilbam came 2nd and 3rd respectively.
In the Women’s Discuss, Nwanneka Okwelogu finished tops with her throw of 52.93M.
In the women’s 800m final, Ihekandu Philomena was first with her time of 2.06.98secs, while Lagos athlete Alabi Aminat was 2nd with a time of 2.10.66secs and Linda Friday came third posting a time of 2.11.05 secs.
Hamadjan Soudi claimed the top spot in the men’s 800m race; finishing with a time of 1.49.80secs.
As widely expected, favourites for the 400m women’s event, George Patience Okon and Regina George, won their heats and will be going head-on in Friday’s final.
The 2016 All-Nigeria Championships is serving as Olympic trial to be used in selecting Team Nigeria to the Rio Olympics athletics events.
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