By Ben Efe
While the IAAF world indoor championships was being concluded yesterday in Doha, Oatar, without Nigeria on the medal list, Blessing Okagbare was on the other side of the Atlantic making history.
Okagbare won a double for Â her school, University of Texas El Paso at the 2010 National Collegiate Athletics Association NCAA indoor championships last Saturday at Fayetteville, Arkansan. Okagbare became the first female in UTEP history to win two titles in a single national meet when she leapt 6.87m in the long jump and in the 60m she sprinted 7.18 seconds toÂ make her golden.
Her performance of 6.87m surpassed the winning jump at Doha. â€œShe just put herself at the top of UTEPâ€™s track and field history today.
â€œOkagbare is not only one of the greatest female athletes of all time to have competed at UTEP. She ranks right up there with all the male athletes that have competed and excelled in a Miner uniform,â€ said UTEP head coach, Bob Kitchen.
Okagbare joins an elite group of Miner greats to have achieved the feat.
UTEP greats and world-renowned athletes Bob Beamon (1968-long/triple jump) and Suleiman Nyambui (1982-mile/two mile run) are the only two other Miners to have accomplished two first-place finishes at the indoor national meet. Nyambui (three times), Obadele Thompson, Olapade Adeniken, Gidamis Shahanga and Fred DeBernardi claimed a pair of titles in outdoor national championships.
The NCAA Championships was the reason Okagbare was not in Doha, where the winning jump for the women long was 6. 70m done by Americaâ€™s Brittney Ressse, Niada Gomes of Portugal was second with 6.67m while Keila Costa won bronze for Brazil at 6.63. It was clearly Okagbareâ€™s gold if she were there in Doha.
In the women 60m however, There was no chance for Okagbare as Veronica Campbell Brown won with 7. 00 seconds. LaVerne Jones-Ferrette of Virgin Island came second with 7.03 , while the Americaâ€™s Carmela Jeter came in at 7.05.
In the menâ€™s race decided earlier on Nigeriaâ€™s duo Peter Emelieze and Ogho-Oghene Egworo failed to reach the final.