It was a day of shock in Bahamas, Saturday night as Blessing Okagbare inspired-Team Nigeria clinched the gold medal in the women’s 4x200m in what should go down as the most dramatic final on the first day of the IAAF/BTC World Relays.
The Nigerian came away with victory at the expense of pre-event favourites USA who were on course to successfully defend their title from last year, after Shalonda Solomon, Kimberlyn Duncan and Jeneba Tarmoh had built up a comfortable lead on the first three legs.
But then disaster struck on the final changeover between Tarmoh and Allyson Felix. The Olympic 200m champion couldn’t quite get a solid grip on the baton as Tarmoh then bumped into her before Felix fell to the ground, their medal hopes dashed.
There was drama too for the host nation as their second changeover was well outside of the zone. The Bahamas carried on and eventually crossed the line in second place, but they were soon disqualified.
It meant that Nigeria were the surprise victors, winning in 1:30.52 to take two seconds off the national record they set earlier this year. World bronze medallist Okagbare led the team off before the baton was passed to Regina George, Dominique Duncan and Christy Udoh.
Jamaica finished a distant second in 1:31.73, one-and-a-half seconds slower than their time from last year, but one place higher on the podium.
Germany were third in 1:33.61 while China set an Asian record of 1:34.89 in fourth.
Nigeria’s 4x400m men, comprising Orukpe Erayokan, Robert Simmons, Amaechi Morton and Miles Ukoama finished 7th in Heat 2 in 3:06.92s, while the 4x400m women, parading a much changed quartet from the Bronze medal winning team last year – Rita Ossai, Patience Okon George, Ibukun Mayungbe and Ngozi Onwumere – could only manage 4th in Heat 1 in a time of 3:32.16, also missing out on the finals and an automatic place in the 4x400m at the Rio Olympics next year.
Okagbare will be hoping to lead Team Nigeria to yet another medal in the women’s 4x100m this time, after missing out on Bronze by a hundredth of a second last year. If the team can finish in the Top 8 they will gain an automatic qualifying spot for the Rio Olympics.

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