By Dare Esan:
Sprinter-cum-long jumper Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will be conspicuosly missing in action when some of the world’s best track and field athletes storm Oslo, Norway on Thursday for the Bislett Games, the seventh leg of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League meetings.
The reigning African and Commonwealth 100m champion who missed the Golden Gala in Rome last week and the Birmingham Diamond League meeting in England last Sunday is not listed for both the long jump and 200m events in Oslo.
Okagbare-Ighoteguonor last competed in the IAAF Diamond League at the Prefontaine Classics in Eugene, Oregon, USA at the end of May where she ran 11.16 seconds to place sixth in the 100m and leapt a personal season’s best 6.73m for a fourth place finish in the long jump.
The Nigerian however made her 2016 IAAF Diamond League debut on May 22 in Rabat, Morocco where she ran 11.11 seconds personal season’s best for a second place finish behind Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (11.02s)
Meanwhile, Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has lost further ground in the 100m diamond race following her absence in Rome and Birmingham.
The Nigerian, prior to the two Diamond League meetings, was second in the standings with six points behind Tori Bowie (10 points) and Elaine Thompson (10 points).
The doundle Commonwealth sprints champion has now dropped from third to fifth after she was supplanted by high-flying American girl English Gardener, now on 16 points after her victory in Birmingham and second place finish in Rome catapaulted her to second in the standings behind Thompson, whose victory in Rome moved her clear at the top with 20 points.
Third with 12 points is Dutch girl Dafne Schippers,the reigning 200m world champion while Bowie has dropped to fourth following her no-shows in Rome and Birmingham.
Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has also lost her place as the number one long jumper in Africa following compatriot Ese Brume’s 6.83m leap at the final leg of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria Golden League in Akure, Ondo State in South West Nigeria.
Brume, the African and Commonwealth long jump champion, is now the number one ranked long jumper in Africa so far this year, a position Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has always assumed since she won Olympic bronze in 2008 in Beijing.
Also set to miss the Oslo meeting on Thursday is triple jumper Tosin Oke.