–Double Commonwealth Sprint Queen Fails Again in Eugene
By Dare Esan:
Barring any late addition, double Commonwealth sprints champion Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will not be among the top stars expected to compete on Thursday in Rome as the IAAF Diamond League train makes its fifth stop at the Golden Gala meeting.
Okagbare has never competed at the Rome meeting since she became one of the sought after track and field stars in the world in 2010 and the Nigerian's name was conspicuosly missing in the provisional entry list released by the organisers of the event Monday morning.
Complete Sports recalls that quartermiler Charity Opara ran her 49.29 seconds 400m personal best at the meeting on July 14, 1998. The time was also the fastest time in the world that year.
Meanwhile Okagbare continued her slow start to the 2016 season at the NIKE-sponsored Prefontaine Classic IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, USA at the weekend with an unispiring 11.16 seconds run in the 100m and a 6.73m personal season's best jump in the long jump.
The Nigerian had a week ago raised hopes of an improvement in performance when she ran a new 11.11 seconds personal season's best to come second at the historic IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat, Morocco.
On Saturday however, the Nigerian and African record holder in the 100m (10.79s) failed to overcome her traditional slow start from the blocks as she placed fifth behind the quintet of English Gardner of the USA (10.81), Bartoletta Tianna also of the USA (10.94), Ahoure Muriel of Cote d'Ivoire (11.01), Jamaica's Facey Simone (11.09) and another American, Pierre Barbara (11.11).
This is Okagbare's worst 100m time at the meeting since she ran 11.08 seconds to place seventh in 2011. She recorded her best 100m time last year when she ran 10.87 seconds to place fourth while her best ranking in the blue ribband event came in 2013 when she ran a wind-aided 10.75 seconds to place second behind Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pyrce (10.71w).
In the long jump Okagbare improved by several centimetres from the rather mediocre 6.21m she jumped at the Drake Relays in April to 6.73m which has placed her 15th on the IAAF top list for 2016. That was her first jump at the meeting since she started participating in 2010 and curiously, the Nigerian is yet to win in Eugene.
She came twice to winning in 2013 when she ran 10.75 seconds to place second in the 100m event and in 2014 when she raced USA's Tori Bowie (22.18) almost to the line in the 200m but lost by five hundreth of a second.The Nigerian ran a new 22.23 seconds personal best on that ocassion to place third behind the duo of Mary Onyali (22.07s) and Falilat Ogunkoya (22.22s) in the Nigerian all-time list,overtaking Fatimah Yusuf (22.28A).