African and Commonwealth track queen, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor, yesterday, got her quest to add IAAF World Championship 100m gold to her tally of medals by winning her first heat with a time of 11.07 seconds.
As one of the favourites for the women 100 and 200 metres gold medals in the on-going championships in Beijing, the sensational Nigerian sprinter is using the event as a launch pad to win gold in next year’s Olympic Games in Brazil. However, she is up against some very stiff opposition in the form of US champion Torie Bowie, Jamaica’s 2007 women’s 100m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce.
In the second heat of the 100 metre sprints, Okagbare-Ighoteguonor recovered from a slightly pedestrian start to pip Jamaica’s Natasha Morrison by 0.01 in 11.07. Sporting dyed red hair, she trailed the quick-starting Morrison for much of the race before charging through in the latter stages to earn the satisfaction of the heat win.
Heat three went against the formbook as Michelle-Lee Ahye of Trinidad and Tobago stole a march on the field with her quick start to blast to victory in 10.98 seconds. It was an impressive victory from the heavily-tattooed Trinidadian who comfortably took the heat win from Bulgaria’s former European champion Ivet Lalova-Collio in 11.09 seconds.
The slight surprise was the sluggish first round performance by 2013 world championships silver medallist Murielle Ahoure, who was outside of the top three places until a late surge by the Ivorian swept her into the final automatic qualification spot in 11.10 seconds.