MONTREAL, QC - AUGUST 24: Loveth Ayila of Nigeria jumps to move the ball past Lina Magull and Felicitas Rauch of Germany during the FIFA Women's U-20 Final at Olympic Stadium on August 24, 2014 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Blessing Okagbare and Uhunoma Naomi Osazuwa are certainly
among top Nigerian athletes that made the county proud in the
2015. Below are their performances that make them stand out for
accolades.

 

Blessing Okagbare
Arguably Nigeria’s No.1
elite athlete at the moment,
Okagbare has shared the
biggest stage with the
best in the business. Prior
to the Worlds, we rated
Okagbare as one of five
athletes likely going to
win the women’s 100m
title. It didn’t happen as
we predicted, but she still
finished as one of the Top
8 in the championships.
The 100m National
Record holder, couldn’t
have wished for a better
start to her year than the
GOLD she won with Team
Nigeria in the women’s
4x200m in Bahamas in
May. She was also part
of the Nigerian quartet
that finished 7th in the
4x100m with a time of
42.99s, which importantly,
qualified Nigeria for Rio
2016 Olympics.
Okagbare bolted to an
early lead in the Diamond
League this year, beating a
stacked line-up to win in
Shanghai with a time of
10.98s. It was her second
100m race of the year, after
finishing 2nd in 11.05s at
the Jamaica Invitational
behind Elaine Thompson
who won in 10.94s. Up till
the last Diamond League
in Zurich, Okagbare
was still in the frame to
claim the Diamond Race
trophy, which Shelly Ann
Fraser-Pryce eventually
won, following up on
her impressive victory in
Beijing.
By all indications, it wasn’t
the season Okagbare
would have wished for,
having the 3rd fastest
time this year with 10.80s
which she achieved at the
Paris DL, just marginally
short of her African
Record of 10.79s.
With so much controversies
in the lead-up to the
African Games, Okagbare
shrugged off talks about
lack of patriotism and
was instrumental in
Team Nigeria’s GOLDwinning
feat in the
women’s 4x100m relay in
Brazzaville. Competing
against an Ivory Coast
team that had an in form
Marie Josee Ta Lou who
did a double at the Games,
Okagbare played her part as
she ran a monstrous 2nd leg
that gave Nigeria the lead,
getting the baton from Cecilia
Francis and handing it to
Ngozi Onwumere, who ran a
perfect curve before Lawretta
Ozoh anchored home.
Uhunoma Naomi Osazuwa
She has to be the No.1
ranked Nigerian athlete
this year, no doubt about it.
The fact that she set another
National Record (NR) sees
her topping the food chain,
making a strong case for her
candidature there.
Having taken a brief hiatus
to complete her education
and become a certified
Pharmacist, Osazuwa
stormed back to reckoning
at the Warri National
Trials where she surpassed
her previous NR in the
Heptathlon, and went on to
set a new one of 6106 points,
going on to win the National
title.
At the World Championships,
she finished a respectable
18th out of 32 athletes that
competed in the grueling
seven-sport event with a
mark of 5951 points. Though
she didn’t match her NR,
she improved in some of her
events, running a PB in the
800m with a time of 2:21.36
and overcoming a slow start
that she had in the 100m
hurdles and still finished in
the top 20.
Currently ranked 35th, she is
the highest ranked African on
the IAAF 2015 Top list, and
has shown that she didn’t
lose touch of Heptathlon in
the last two years that she
was studying.
The global stage might be
tougher but on the continent
she stands tall. Osazuwa
is an African Games Silver
medallist in the High Jump
(2011), and she has gone a
step higher adding GOLD
this September in Congo
Brazzaville. She needed
another PB of 2:20.12 in
the 800m, her final event
to eclipse Benin’s Odile
Ahouanwanou who settled
for Silver.


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