By Dare Esan:
Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has been confirmed to race against USA’s Torie Bowie in the 200m event at the Herculis Zepter IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco tomorrow.
The reigning Commonwealth double sprint queen pulled out of the 200m event at the Athletissima IAAF Diamond League meeting last week in Lausanne, Switzerland after spraining an ankle in the long jump event at the same meeting but looks fit again to race against an athlete she is yet to out-run over the half lap since 2014.
Both Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and Bowie have clashed twice over the distance since last year with the American emerging the winner.
The duo first came face-to-face on May 31,2014 in Eugene,Oregon,USA at the Nike-sponsored Prefontaine IAAF Diamond League meeting with Bowie running a new personal best time of 22.18 to beat the IAAF World Championships bronze medallist.
Interestingly,Okagbare-Ighoteguonor also ran her pesonal best time of 22.23 seconds to come second at the meeting and the mark catapaulted her above Fatimah Yusuf (22.28) to become the third fastest ever Nigerian nay African woman in the event.Only the duo of Mary Onyali who holds the African record at 22.07 and quartermiler,Falilat Ogunkoya who ran 22.22 seconds to successfully complete a 200m/400m double at the African Championships in Dakar,Senegal in 1998 have ran faster. This year,precisely at the adidas-sponsored IAAF Diamond League meeting in New York,USA on June 13,Bowie also raced home first (22.23) ahead of Okagbare-Ighoteguonor (22.67).
Friday’s race is not all about Okagbare-Ighoteguonor versus Bowie.The duo will also have to contend with Britain’s Asher-Smith Dina who has ran faster than the Nigerian this year and the American duo of Tarmoh Jeneba (22.29 personal season’s best) and Whitney Kaylin (22.47 personal season’s best) for the maximum IAAF Diamond League points on offer.
Also in contention are the fast rising star from the Bahamas,Shaunae Miller (22.14,the fastest woman in the expected line-up) and pride of Europe,Holland’s Schippers Dafne (22.39) who has also ran faster than the Nigerian this year. A win for the Nigerian tomorrow will bring her total IAAF Diamond Race points haul to six,four points away from USA’s multiple world champions,Allyson Felix who will not be in action tomorrow and two behind second-placed Tarmoh who will remain on eight points if she fails to get among the top three finishers tomorrow.