By Yemi Babalola Lagos, Nigeria
The amazon to be looked at today is field and track star Blessing Okagbare. She was born 10th September, 1988 in Sapele Delta state. Blessing took to sports at a tender age, encouraged by her teachers and family members. Initially, she played football at her secondary school until 2014, when she began to take interest in track and field event.
Blessing at 19, won a bronze medal in women’s long jump at the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics. In 2010, Blessing participated at the African championships and won gold in long jump with a 6.62meters distance. She also won Gold medals in 100meters distance and in the 4×100meters women’s relay, which brought her Gold accumulation to three at the Championships event in Nairobi, Kenya where the Nigerian contingent came second in the overall medals table with 8 Gold medals, 5 Silver medals and 18 Bronze medals.
Blessing in 2011 continued in her successful strides to establish her person in the track and field events, where, though she did not perform so well at the World Championships for the year, She redeemed herself at the All African games held in Maputo, Mozambique where she won two gold medals, one in long jump and the other as part of the quartet that won the 4×100meters. Blessings still picked a silver medal in the 100 meters race, losing to compatriot Oludamola Osayomi.
In 2012, Blessing won the 2012 African championships silver medal in the 100meters race and Gold medal for long jump. This feat continued into the year 2013, which could be categorized as a notable year for Blessing Okagbare.
Blessing in 2013 at the London anniversary games defeated Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce in the 100meters race and in fact set a new record of 0.79seconds. Also in the same year at the World Championships held in Moscow, she won a silver medal in the long jump and came third in the 200meters race.
Blessing continued her medal spin into the year 2014 where at the commonwealth games which was held in Glasgow, she won gold medals in the 100meters and 200meters races, silver medal in the 4x100meters relays alongside compatriots Gloria Asumnu, Dominique Duncan and Lawretta Ozoh.
At the World Relays of 2015, Blessing Okagbare alongside Regina George Dominique Duncan and Christy Udoh won the 4x200meters and set an African record in the process. After which she sustained a hamstring injury and did not participate at the All African Games and the IAAF World Championships of the same year.
Blessing in 2016 slowed down due to injury but in spite of this participated alongside Cecilia Francis, Ngozi Onwumere and Lawretta Ozoh in the 4x100meters relay and helped Nigeria secure gold medal. However, she had a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics; she achieved another feat in 2016, by becoming the first athlete in the Guinness world records to appear most at the diamond league events with 38 appearances ahead of Usain Bolt.
Blessing Okagbare is still an active athlete representing Nigeria, though she has slowed down in recent times. She is currently in the United States where she resides with her husband, former Nigerian international footballer Igho Otegheri.