Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor


Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor

Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor

Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor (born 9 October 1988) is a Nigerian track and field athlete who specializes in long jumping and short sprints. She is an Olympic and World Championships medalist in the long jump and a world medalist in the 200 metres. She also holds the Women’s 100 metres Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds.

Her 100 m best of 10.79 made her the African record holder for the event until it was eclipsed by Murielle Ahouré in 2016. She is the current African record holder in the 200 m with her run of 22.04 seconds in 2018. She was the African 100 m and long jump champion in 2010. She has also won medals at the All-Africa Games, IAAF Continental Cup and World Relays.



Early life

Of Urhobo heritage, Okagbare was born in Sapele, Delta, in Nigeria. Given her athletic physique, teachers and family encouraged her to take up sports. Initially she played football as a teenager at her high school and later, in 2004, she began to take an interest in track and field. She participated in a number of disciplines early on, competing in the long jump, triple jump and high jump events at the Nigerian school championships and winning a medal in each. On the senior national stage, she was a triple jump bronze medallist at the 2004 Nigerian National Sports Festival. Okagbare’s first international outing came at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Athletics, where she performed in the qualifying rounds of both the long and triple jump competitions.

In May 2007, at the All-Africa Games trials in Lagos, she established a Nigerian record of 14.13 metres in the triple jump. At the 2007 All-Africa Games, she won the silver medal in the long jump[5] and finished fourth in the triple jump. In the latter competition, her Nigerian record was beaten by Chinonye Ohadugha, who jumped 14.21 metres.

Olympic and African medals

As a 19-year-old, she won a bronze medal in the women’s long jump event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.[7] She was selected to compete at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics but did not start either the 100 m or long jump.

Okagbare scored a 100 m/long jump double at the NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship for University of Texas at El Paso, completing an undefeated collegiate streak for the UTEP Miners that year.] She won the Nigerian 100 m title in 2010, running a time of 11.04 seconds, and stated that she was opting out of the long jump in order to save herself for the upcoming African championships.

At the African Championships in 2010, she won gold in the long jump again with a distance of 6.62 m while her compatriot Comfort Onyali took silver. Okagbare also won gold in the 100 m distance with a run of 11.03 s flat, while Gabon’s Ruddy Zang Milama and compatriot Oludamola Osayomi won silver and bronze with runs of 11.15 s and 11.22 s respectively . She won her third gold at the end of the championship as part of the Nigerian 4×100 m women’s relay team. The team of Okagbare, Osayomi, Lawretta Ozoh and Agnes Osazuwa set a new championship record with a run of 43.43 s, more than a full second ahead of the silver-winning Cameroonian quartet.

In 2011, Okagbare continued to build on her earlier endeavours by establishing herself as a 100 m runner. At the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, Okagbare placed fifth in the 100 m final with a run of 11.12 s. However, she did not make it to the final of the long jump as her best jump of 6.36 m was not enough to get her out of her qualifying group. She concluded her 2011 season by winning three medals at the All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique. She won silver in the 100 m behind compatriot Oludamola Osayomi with a run of 11.01 s and gold in the long jump with a jump of 6.5 0m. She was part of the Nigerian quartet that won gold in the 4 × 100 m with a time of 43.34.

2012 was a busy year for Okagbare. She jumped 6.97 m in the long jump in Calabar during the Nigerian championship. She won new continental medals at the 2012 African Championships in Porto-Novo. In the 100 m she was beaten to silver by Zang Milama, while in the long jump she claimed gold with a jump of 6.96 m.

London 2012 and 2013 World Championships

At London 2012, Okagbare participated in her second Olympic Games. Going into the Olympics she had run a number of fast 100 m races and there was much anticipation and hope of a medal. However the 2012 Olympics were not as successful for Okagbare as her 2008 outing. She established a new personal best of 10.92 s in the 100 m semi-final but placed eighth in the final with a run of 11.01 s.

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2013 would prove to be a breakthrough year for Okagbare. In April 2013, in Walnut, California, Blessing Okagbare set a personal record in the 200 m with a time of 22.31 s. Then, in July, she improved her personal best in the long jump with successive jumps of 6.98 m at the Athletissima meet in Lausanne, and 7.00 m during the Monaco Herculis meet. On 27 July 2013, at the London Anniversary Games, Okagbare set a new African record of 10.86 s in her 100 m race. She won the final about an hour later, setting a new African record of 10.79, in a race where she beat reigning 100 m Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. Okagbare’s record eclipsed the existing record by compatriot Glory Alozie of 10.90 s which had stood since 1998.

At the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Okagbare won the silver medal in the long jump. Her jump of 6.99 m put her in second place behind Brittney Reese of the United States by only two centimetres. In the 100 m final, she placed sixth with a run of 11.04 s and also placed third in the 200 m race.

2014 Commonwealth Games

Okagbare participated in both the 100m and 200m races. She made it through to the finals of the 100m and won with a time of 10.85, breaking the games record of 10.91 seconds set by Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie 12 years earlier at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Okagbare also won the gold medal in the 200, with a time of 22.25 seconds. In doing so, she became the fourth woman to win the 100m and 200m double at the Commonwealth Games.

2015 World Relays and African Games

She ran the lead off leg in the 4 × 200 m at the 2015 World Relays. The team consisting of Okagbare, Regina George, Dominique Duncan and Christy Udoh, won the race and set an African Record in the process.[13] She did not appear in the 200 metres at the IAAF World Championships or the All Africa Games due to a hamstring injury she sustained while finishing last in the final of the 100 metres at the World Championships. At the end of the season, she did participate in the IAAF Diamond League meet, the Weltklasse Zürich in Zurich, finishing second in the 100 metres. The Director General of Nigeria’s National Sports Commission Al Hassan Yakmu was angered by the perceived snub:

“I was shocked when I saw Okagbare competing in the Diamond League in Zurich last Thursday. I was wondering if it was the same Okagbare who refused to compete for Nigeria in the 200m event at the IAAF World Championship in Beijing. She even opted out of Team Nigeria for the All-Africa Games in Congo. Why? I have said it times without number that any athlete who feels too big to compete for Nigeria in the All-Africa Games should not bother about the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. No athlete is bigger than Nigeria.

— Al Hassan Yakmu

It was initially reported that Okagbare was banned from representing Nigeria at the 2016 Olympics. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria eventually refuted the claim. Though she opted out of the individual events at the All-Africa Games, she did run in the 4 × 100 m relay and help the Nigerian team (Cecilia Francis, Okagbare, Ngozi Onwumere and Lawretta Ozoh) secure the gold medal.

2016 Rio Olympics

Blessing had a disappointing show at the 2016 Rio Olympics as she finished without a single medal. She never made it to the final but was ranked 3rd in 100m semifinal finishing at 11.09s and ranked 8th with her teammates in the final of 4 × 100 m relay. 

Personal life

In September 2014, she married Nigerian footballer Igho Otegheri.

International competitions

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
2006 World Junior Championships Beijing, China 6th (q) Long jump 5.97 m
8th (q) Triple jump 12.81 m
2007 All-Africa Games Algiers, Algeria 2nd Long jump 6.46 m
4th Triple jump 13.77 m
2008 Olympic Games Beijing, China 3rd Long jump 6.91 m
2010 African Championships Nairobi, Kenya 1st 100 m 11.03
1st Long jump 6.62 m
1st 4 × 100 m relay 43.45 CR
Continental Cup Split, Croatia 3rd 100 m 11.14
3rd 4 × 100 m relay 43.88
2011 World Championships Daegu, South Korea 5th 100 m 11.12
9th (q) Long jump 6.36 m
6th 4 × 100 m relay 42.93
All-Africa Games Maputo, Mozambique 2nd 100 m 11.01 w
1st Long jump 6.50 m w
1st 4 × 100 m relay 43.34
2012 African Championships Porto-Novo, Benin 2nd 100 m 11.18
1st Long jump 6.96 m
Olympic Games London, United Kingdom 8th 100 m 11.01
7th (q) Long jump 6.34 m
4th 4 × 100 m relay 42.64
2013 World Championships Moscow, Russia 6th 100 m 11.04
3rd 200 m 22.32
2nd Long jump 6.99 m
2014 World Relays Nassau, Bahamas 4th 4 × 100 m relay 42.67
Commonwealth Games Glasgow, United Kingdom 1st 100 m 10.85 GR
1st 200 m 22.25
2nd 4 × 100 m relay 42.92
African Championships Marrakesh, Morocco 1st 100 m 11.00
1st 4 × 100 m relay 43.56
2015 World Relays Nassau, Bahamas 7th 4 × 100 m relay 42.99
1st 4 × 200 m relay 1:30.52
World Championships Beijing, China 8th 100 m 11.02
African Games Brazzaville, Congo 1st 4 × 100 m relay 43.10
2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 3rd (sf) 100 m 11.09
5th (sf) 200 m 22.69
8th 4 × 100 m relay 43.21
2017 World Championships London, United Kingdom 4th (sf) 100 m 11.08
8th Long jump 6.55 m
2018 Commonwealth Games Gold Coast, Australia 3rd 4 × 100 m relay 42.75
African Championships Asaba, Nigeria 1st 4 × 100 m relay 43.77
2019 African Games Rabat, Morocco 4th (h) 100 m 11.531
1st (h) 4 × 100 m relay 43.49
World Championships Doha, Qatar 200 m DQ
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1Disqualified in the semifinal

National titles

  • Nigerian Athletics Championships
    • 100 metres: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016
    • 200 metres: 2013, 2014, 2016
    • Long jump: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013
    • Triple jump: 2007, 2008
  • NCAA Women’s Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships
    • 100 metres: 2010
    • Long jump: 2010
  • NCAA Women’s Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships
    • 60 metres: 2010

Circuit wins

100 m
  • Meeting Sport Solidarietà: 2010
  • London Grand Prix: 2012, 2013
  • Herculis: 2012
  • IAAF World Challenge Beijing: 2013
  • Jamaica International Invitational: 2014
  • Shanghai Golden Grand Prix: 2015
  • Meeting de Atletismo Madrid: 2016
  • Gyulai István Memorial: 2016, 2017
  • Marseille Meeting International: 2017
  • Hanžeković Memorial: 2017
  • Texas Relays: 2018
200 m
  • Mt. SAC Relays: 2013
  • British Grand Prix: 2013
  • Shanghai Golden Grand Prix: 2014
  • Meeting Areva: 2014
  • Michael Johnson Classic: 2016
  • Folksam Grand Prix: 2016
  • KBC Night of Athletics: 2016
Long jump
  • Gyulai István Memorial: 2011
  • Athletissima: 2013
  • Herculis: 2013
  • Shanghai Golden Grand Prix: 2014

Personal bests

  • 100 metres – 10.79 seconds (2013)
  • 200 metres – 22.04 seconds (2018) AR
  • Long jump – 7.00 m (22 ft 11 12 in) (2013)
  • Triple jump – 14.13 m (46 ft 4 14 in) (2007)
  • 60 metres (indoor) – 7.18 seconds (2010)

Her mark of 14.13 m in the triple jump is the African under-20 record. Her best of 10.79 in the 100 m was the African senior record from 27 July 2013 to 11 June 2016, when it was beaten by Ivorian athlete Murielle Ahouré.

Seasonal bests

Year 100 m 200 m Long jump Triple jump
2018 10.90 22.04
2017 10.99 22.87 6.77
2016 11.02 22.58 6.73
2015 10.80 22.67 6.66
2014 10.85 22.23 6.86
2013 10.79 22.31 7.00
2012 10.92 22.63 6.97
2011 11.08 22.94 6.78
2010 11.00 22.71 6.88 12.80
2009 11.16 6.73 13.59
2008 23.76 6.91 14.07
2007 6.51 14.13
2006 6.16 13.38