After pulling out of the 100m and 200m events, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor made surprise appearance on Day 3 of action at the ongoing African Senior Athletics Championships, where she made her presence count by playing a major role in helping Nigeria win the 4x100m Gold medal.
The Gold medal-winning quartet had youngster Joy Udo-Gabriel, starting before handing over to Okagbare, who ran a solid leg to create the necessary lead for Tobi Amusan, also consolidating strongly on this lead, before nicely giving it to Rosemary Chukwuma, who held her own against newly crowned 100m African Champion Marie-Jose Ta Lou, to give Nigeria a precious Gold medal ahead of the Ivorian quartet.
The Nigerian ladies posted an impressive time of 43.77secs, Ivory Coast with Silver ran 44.40secs, while Kenya surprisingly came 3rd ahead of South Africa in 45.58secs.
Speaking after the race, the Nigerian quartet led by Okagbare said “We thank God almighty for our team winning the Gold, this is a collective effort, we all put in our best to give Nigeria Gold and we are happy we delivered.”
Youth sensation, Chukwuma also spoke about anchoring Nigeria to victory ‘’When I saw Ta Lou as the anchor leg runner for Ivory Coast, I knew I had to run my life when Tobi hands me the baton. I started running, looked by my side and didn’t see Ta Lou, I just said thank God. I’m happy I made Nigerians happy by bringing home the Gold medal.’’
In the men’s 4x100m, the Nigerian quartet of Ogho-Oghene Egwero, Divine Oduduru, Emmanuel Arowolo and Seye Ogunlewe, overcame a rusty start and rough baton exchange to win the Silver medal, clocking 38.74secs.
South Africa, spearheaded by Akani Simbine were the winners running a fast time of 38.25secs, while Ivory Coast won Bronze in 38.92secs.
There was more celebration for the host country in the field events, as home girl Ese Brume leapt to 6.83m, equalling her Personal Best and winning her third consecutive African title in the event.
Brume, is now the first African ever to win three back-to-back titles in the history of the African Championships, and remains unbeaten in the continent since 2014.
In the Women’s Discuss, it was 1-2 for Nigeria, with Chioma Onyekwere winning her first African title on a record breaking note in a Personal Best of 58.09m.
Three-time African Champion, Chinwe Okoro won the Silver medal with a distance of 57.37m, while Ischke Senekal was the Bronze medallist for South Africa with 53.82m.
By the end of Day 3, South Africa leads the medal standings with 17 medals (5 Gold, 7 Silver & 5 Bronze).
Nigeria is second with 11 medals (5 Gold, 3 Silver & 3 Bronze)
Kenya third with 6 medals (3 Gold, 2 Silver & 1 Bronze).