Before 28 July 2021, no Nigerian woman had ever gone under a minute in the women’s 100m freestyle event. That is no longer the case after Abiola Habitat Ogunbanwo, on Wednesday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, won Heat 1 of her favourite event in 59.74s.
Before Wednesday, Ngozi Monu’s longstanding Nigerian record of 1:00.50, which had stood since 2007, served as the benchmark, but Ogunbanwo has now set a new standard.
Competing in the very first heat of the women’s 100m freestyle event, Ogunbanwo finished ahead of Andela Antunovic of Montenegro (1:00.01), Nepal’s Gaurika Singh (1:00.11), and Mineri Gomez of Guam (1:04.00).
However, her finishing time was not good enough to take her through to the semis, as it was only the 50th best time in the event.
In the women’s 100m freestyle event, the time returned by competitors is all that matters in the heats, as only the fastest 16 swimmers get to advance to the semi-finals.
But Ogunbanwo can hold her head up high after adding the 100m national record to the 400m freestyle and 200m breaststroke national records she currently holds.