Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
Nigeria's superwoman, meet Jamaica's superman. Triple threat Blessing Okagbare, here to compete in the long jump, 100 and 200 metres, is drawing favourable comparisons to sprint sensation Usain Bolt at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics (WCA).
She likes it.
"A lot of people have been, maybe, saying that," Okagbare said, laughing on August 15. "If they say that, then it's an honour.
"Usain Bolt is a great athlete, an extremely talented athlete, and for some people to say you actually have, maybe you're even close to the talent he has, is a great honour for me."
Like Bolt, Okagbare carries an impressive physical frame when compared to most of her competitors - 5' 11" tall and weighing 150 pounds. Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, gold medallist in the 100 metres here, is listed at 5' 0", 110 pounds. Bolt competes in multiple events as well - the 100m and 200m - and has toyed with the idea of doing the long jump.
Okagbare has yet to come close to Bolt's World record-breaking accomplishments in any of her events, but she has accepted comparisons to the Jamaican star as a challenge to improve to the point where - like him - she can win gold medals at global championships like the WCA.
"I am actually working my way to get there," Okagbare said, "to be like the Usain Bolt."
She's no slouch either. Here, in her first attempt at three individual events at a global meet, Okagbare is reaping some success. The 2008 Olympic long jump bronze medalist placed second in the event at the WCA with a leap of 6.99 metres, after taking seven jumps total. She also clocked 11.04 seconds to finish sixth in the 100 meters final, after running a heat and semi-final in the event.
Okagbare, a world-class triple jumper, is also in the August 16 final of the 200 metres after coasting to the second-fastest time in the semis. But, even after that, her work won't be done as she is expected to be part of Nigeria's 4x100 metres relay team.
Bolt-like standards may be in the distance, but the burden Okagbare is carrying doesn't take a step back for anyone, not even Jamaica's and track's biggest star.
"Hard work, determination," said Okagbare, of handling her workload, "and just keeping my focus."