Blessing Okagbare Thursday easily cruises into the final of the women’s 200m event holding today with a warning that the gold medal was open for any of the half-lap runners to take.
The Delta girl ran a controlled 22.39secs second semi final race behind London Olympic Games champion, American Allyson Felix (22.30secs), to stay in contention for a possible second medal of the ongoing World Championships in Moscow, Russia.
“My legs are not feeling as great as the first day but that was expected. I am just taking it one step at a time. When it’s qualification, I worry about qualification, when it is the semi final I worry about semi final… Otherwise, it is too much for my brain. I am fine. Anybody can medal, so I don’t underestimate anyone,” observed Okagbare who ended Nigeria’s 14 years wait for a worlds medal winning the silver medal of the women’s long jump event last Sunday.
Kimberlyn Duncan, who defeated Felix to win the American trials placed third in 22.91 but unfortunately missed the cut for the final.
In the first round, Okagbare surged to the finish line ahead of the pack in 22.79 to book the semi final ticket. American ChaRonda Williams (22.83) and Kimberly Hyacinthe (23.19) of Canada placed second and third respectively.
Also speaking on the final, Felix said she was happy with her race and focused on the final.
“I am happy with my run today. I was focused on my start and on the turn and easing comfortably on the home straight,” stressed the Olympic champion who is determined to reclaim the title she lost in Daegu two years ago.
The other qualifiers for the 200m final apart from Okagbare and Felix include, Ivorian Murielle Ahoure, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica), Shaunae Miller (Bahamas), Jeneba Tarmoh (USA), Mariya Ryemyen (Ukraine) and Charonda Williams (USA).
While Nigerian camp looked forward enthusiastically to the final today, the country’s men 4x400m relay team ran a dismal 3 mins 04.52 to place 7th in the first round heat won by Jamaica in a world leading time of 3 mins 00.41secs.
The quartet of Noah Akwu, Abiola Onakoya, Tobi Ogunmola and Isah Salihu just could not find their bearing in the field to crash out in their very first race of this edition.
Also today, the women’s 4x400m quartet will attempt to remove the one-athlete tag that is gradually hanging on Nigeria at this edition by gunning for qualification into the final and a possible placement on the podium.
Tosin Oke will also hope into the men’s triple jump pit half-fit to try his luck for a medal. His season has been blighted by a recurring injury he copped at the London Olympic Games.