Blessing Okagbare’s much awaited return to Diamond League action in Lausanne last night proved to be an anti-climax, as she stumbled out of her blocks and opted not to finish the race, as it was clear that she had lost it in the first few strides. Trinidad & Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye, who is quickly emerging as Blessing’s main rival for the 100m Commonwealth GOLD, took full advantage and raced to victory in 10.98 seconds, with Cote d’Ivoire’s Murielle Ahouré second in a photo finish with the same time! Following the the late withdrawals of Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and USA’s Tori Bowie from the race, the path had seemed clear for an Okagbare victory, but her slip put paid to those hopes, though after her trip she would have been more concerned with staying injury-free rather than finishing the race – and rightly so!
The biggest story of the night was undoubtedly the men’s 100 metres, which saw the return of Tyson Gay from his well-publicised 1 year drug ban, a punishment that many in the Athletics world have felt was too lenient. Tyson Gay ran 9.93s on his return, placing second in an American 1-2-3, with Justin Gatlin winning with a new world leading (WL) time this season of 9.80s and Mike Rodgers third in 9.98s – ALL THREE of them have served drug bans at some stage of their careers! Kirani James and LeShawn Merritt continued their intriguing 400m rivalry, with James coming out on top this time in 43.74s (a new WL, PB and National Record for Grenada!), with Merritt 2nd in an Season’s Best (SB) of 43.92s. Jamaica’s Yohan Blake finished a disappointing 6th in the 200m in 20.48s, with Panama’s Alonso Edward winning in 19.84s (SB), while Qatar’s Nigerian-born Femi Ogunode was 5th in 20.25s.
Thankfully, Okagbare fans will not have to wait long to see her in action again, as she will appear in the 200 metres at the Paris Diamond League tomorrow (Saturday July 5th)! Once again, it is a loaded field and Blessing will to be on the very top of her game to best the likes of USA’s Multiple World and Olympic 200m Champion, Alyson Felix and Jamaica’s Current 200m World Champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, though the latter has struggled for form this season. Tori Bowie is also on the start-list in Paris, and she will certainly be a threat to Okagbare’s hopes of winning this – one might recall that in her very first Diamond League 200m race after switching events from the Long Jump, Bowie shocked Okagbare and the rest of the field from Lane 1 in Eugene!
In other events holding at the ‘Meeting Areva’ in the Stade de France tomorrow, Okagbare has again opted not to participate in the long jump event that will see the likes of reigning Olympic and World champion, Brittney Reese, Tianna Bartoletta and Funmi Jimoh (all of USA). Former 400m World champion, Amantle Montsho, is still trying to find her best form this season (SB 50.37s) and will race in the keenly contested women’s 400m, alongside USA’s Olympic Champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who has run sub-50 this season (SB 49.66s), as well as Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills, who has posted an impressive time of 50.05s this season.
There is an interesting inclusion in the men’s 100m as a British athlete with Nigerian roots, Chijindu Ujah, is set to make his Diamond League debut. The 100m Champion at the 2013 European Junior Championships recently broke the 10 second barrier with a time of 9.96sec in Hengelo, Holland last month, making him the third fastest Brit in history! He will go against the world’s fastest man this season, Richard Thompson (9.82s) from Trinidad and Tobago, and the likes of veteran former World Champion Kim Collins and the Jamaican trio of Nickel Ashmaede, Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nesta Carter!
For Nigerian viewers, SuperSport 6 (DSTV Channel 206) will show the Meeting Areva (Paris Diamond League) LIVE from 7-9pm on Saturday July 5th. Blessing Okagbare goes in the women’s 200 metres at 7.42pm – Don’t miss it!
2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 9 May Shanghai, CHN – 18 May Eugene, USA – 31 May Rome, ITA – 5 Jun Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun New York, USA – 14 Jun Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep