By Dare Esan:
Sprinter Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor and sprint hurdler,Tobiloba Amusan have been listed to compete for points and cash at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat,Morocco where the IAAF Diamond League train will make its ninth of 14 stops on Friday.
This will be the first time the two Nigerians who both graduated from the University of Texas in El Paso (UTEP) in Texas,USA will be appearing together at the IAAF biggest stage for one day meetings.
However,while Okagbare-Ighoteguonor will be making her third consecutive trip to Rabat, Amusan,the reigning Commonwealth Games 100m hurdles champion will make her first visit to the city.
Okagbare-Ighoteguonor made her debut at the Rabat leg of the meetings in 2016 and ran 11.11 seconds to finish second (11.02 seconds) in the 100m event behind Jamaica’s Elain Thompson who would later that year go on to successfully complete a sprints double at the Rio Olympics.
She returned the following year to improve her performance to 11.03 seconds but dropped to fourth in a race Thompson repeated as winners (10.87 seconds).
Competing in her first Diamond League 200m race she holds the fastest time (22.04 seconds) by any woman in the event so far this year,the former double Commonwealth Games sprints champion will however have to banish the ghost of her disappointing 23.03 seconds run over the distance at the IAAF World Challenge meeting,the Fanny Blankers Koen Games last June in Hengelo,the Netherlands and run as fast as the world leading time she ran in Abilene,Texas last March to stand a chance of out-running the Ivorian duo of Muriel Ahoure and Marie-Jose Ta Lou as well as the tall and beautiful Bahamian,Shaunae Miller-Uibo,the only woman in the line-up who has ran inside 22 seconds.
Jamaica’s quatermiler Shericka Jackson who is only 100th of a second slower (22.05 seconds) than the Nigerian so far this term is also also a contender for the $10,000 top prize on offer and the maximum eight Diamond League points as well as British girl,Dina Asher Smith and Jenna Prandini,the 2015 NCAA 200m champion.
For Amusan it will however be her second ever appearance in the IAAF Diamond League series following her debut last May at the Golden Gala in Rome,Italy where she placed third (12.86 seconds) behind USA’s Elvis Sharika (12.76 seconds) and Jamaica’s Williams Danielle (12.82 seconds) whom the Nigerian edged to take the Commonwealth Games gold last April in Gold Coast,Australia.
Amusan will be up against Sharika who won in Rome as well as Dawn Harper-Nelson and Brianna Mcneal who the Nigerian raced past to third.