Blessing Okagbare, the 24 year-old Delta-born athlete, who is leading Nigeria’s medals chase at the on-going IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, yesterday proved that she was destined for great things when she jumped to a silver medal win in the Women’s Long Jump event at the Luzhniki Stadium
Okagbare’s penultimate jump of 6.99m was only surpassed by the defending champion from America, Brittney Reese, whose second jump of 7.01 was enough to win her the gold.
With one giant leap, Reese again rose to the occasion and became the first woman to win three long jump titles at the world championships.
Despite losing the gold to the American, Okagbare was gracious in celebrating her silver-medal feat, by hugging the champion from America.
Tipped by many athletics buffs, including Mary Onyali to win at least a medal at the world championships, Okagbare was all smiles as she celebrated with the Nigerian flag draped around her to the delight of the few Nigerians at the stadium.
Okagbare’s silver earned her $30, 000 from the IAAF. Reese pocketed $60, 000 for her gold-medal win.
Interestingly before the long jump final, Okagbare ran earlier in the day to reach the 100m semifinals, where she is a medal favorite in today’s final. But unlike in the long jump event, Okagbare must dig deep to upstage Olympics champion from Jamaica, Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, who like Reese is the defending champion.
Remarkably, Reese, gold medallist in 2009 and 2011, had scraped into the final on count-back after a below-par showing in Saturday’s qualifying but the American had no intention of losing her crown and, after opening with a foul, leapt 7.01m.
Her jump was the only seven metre jump of the competition
Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic was third with a national record 6.82m on count-back from Belarussian Volha Sudarava.
Before celebrating, Olympic champion Reese put on a t-shirt bearing the words ‘Team Reeset’, hugged Okagbare and then holding the Stars and Stripes flag, posed for photographs.