Blessing Okagbare’s campaign in the 2014 IAAF Diamond League ended in an anti-climax as the Commonwealth double sprint champion posted her slowest time in the series in Brussels , placing sixth in the 200m in 22.60s and missing out on the $50,000 at stake in the process.
Olympic champion, Allyson Felix could not be denied as she dominated the field with a world lead of 22.02s, which was 0.01s faster than the former time set by Dafne Schippers in last month’s European Championships. Prior to the event, the American was leading the rankings with 13 points, while Okagbare followed with 11 points, and the 200m was meant to be a two horse race between the pair.
And though the Nigerian enjoyed a good start, it was Felix who clearly led the rest of the field as they came off the bend, providing the perfect impetus for French athlete, Myriam Soumaré, who set a Personal Best of 22.11s, to trail in her wake, while Schippers finished in third with 22.30s. In the final standings, Felix soared above the rest with a massive 21 points, while Blessing followed with 11 points and Schippers with 6 points.
Okagbare would have needed to go faster than Mary Onyali’s African Record of 22.07s to have any chance of winning, but she would have needed to finish ahead of Felix and possibly break 22 seconds to take the Diamond League Trophy – she is still waiting for the first one of her career. That said, it has been an eventful season for Okagbare whose final stop for 2014 will be at the IAAF Continental Cup, where she is expected to feature in the 100m and anchor the women’s 4x100m. She set a 200m Personal Best of 22.23s in Oregon, claimed the sprint double at the Commonwealth Games with a CR of 10.85s in the 100m and 20.25s in the 200m, and then regained the African title in the shorter sprint as well, in 11 seconds flat!
The standout athlete of the evening was Justin Gatlin, whose exploits were unrivalled, as he blew away the rest if the field in a scintillating fashion to claim the sprint double with ease. He claimed the 100m with a world lead of 9.77s, ahead of Michael Rodgers (9.93s) and Asafa Powell (9.95s), while team mate, Tyson Gay finished in sixth place with 10.01s. Less than an hour later he sprinted to the 200m crown in 19.71s, while Qatar’s Femi Ogunode was second in 20.15s and Alonso Edward in third with 20.26s.
Qatar’s Essa Mutaz Barshim was outstanding in the final leg of the Diamond League High Jump, as he made two attempts at the World Record (WR) in the men’s high jump (2.46), before settling for a world lead, Area Record (AR), Meeting Record (MR) and second best jump of all time with his leap of 2.43m, with fierce rival, European champion and record holder, Bohdan Bondarenko coming second in 2.40m, after unsuccessfully attempting a shot at the WR himself.