Blessing Okagbare recast herself as a medal favourite in the Olympic 100m after setting a personal best 10.93 seconds to win her first-round heat in London.
That time was the second-fastest of the round behind America’s Carmelita Jeter’s 10.83 and shaved .03 seconds off her previous personal best set earlier this year. The semifinals are set for 12:35pm Saturday with the final to follow at 2:55 p.m.
Okagbare did that despite a conservative start that had her one of the last runners out of the blocks in the fourth of seven heats. She ran down America’s Tianna Madison (10.97) by the midpoint as those two were more than a quarter of a second ahead of anyone else in the heat.
Fellow Nigerian and teammate Oludamola Osayomi failed to qualify for the semifinals after finishing fourth in the final heat in 11.36.
Twenty-four runners advanced to the semifinals rounds, which will narrow the field to an eight-person final.
Earlier in the day, the trio of Amaechi Morton (men’s 400m hurdles), Omolara Omotosho (women’s 400m hurdles) and Bukola Abogunloko (women’s 400m) also secured places in the semifinals of their respective events.
Team Nigeria is yet to win any medal in London and many are hoping athletics might save the occasion for Nigeria.