Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare believes she can upset the pecking order at the Olympics and outshine her 100m rivals from Jamaica and the United States.
The 23-year-old has hit form at the right time, dipping under 11 seconds twice this month to record victories at both the London and Monaco Diamond League events against her fellow competitors for sprint gold.
At Crystal Palace earlier this month, Okagbare scored a surprise win over defending Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and reigning world champion Carmelita Jeter.
She then followed that up with victory in Monaco, clocking a season’s best 10.96sec. Although her rivals from Jamaica and the United States remain the bookmakers’ favourites, Okagbare says she is unfazed by the prospect of lining up against them in London.
“You race with them from day to day. It’s not any different at the Olympic Games,” she told AFP.
“They are not threats to me. When I went to Beijing, I was 19 and I got the bronze medal. This year it feels different.”
The Delta State-born athlete had a below par performance at the recent African Athletics Championships in Porto Novo, Benin Republic, losing her African 100m title to little-known Gabonese sprinter Ruddy Milama.
But her fantastic outing in Crystal Palace and Monaco has again made her one of the favourites in the women’s 100m in London.
Okagbare, a bronze medallist in the long jump in Beijing four years ago, now has genuine belief she can add a medal in the 100m in London.
“My recent win in Monaco has boosted my confidence,” Okagbare said. “I think I’m ready to face the world. I’m just going to go out and do my best.
“I’m aiming for a top three overall. If I get the gold, I’ll take it. Whatever happens I will accept my fate.”