Blessing Okagbare came second in the women’s 100m with Doreen Amata winning the women’s High Jump event, as both athletes made sure Nigeria had a good representation at the Jamaica International Invitationals held in Kingston on Saturday,
With just days to the commencement of the first IAAF Diamond League meet of the year, taking place in Doha, Qatar, many top athletes from across the globe converged in Jamaica for the one-day event, getting ready to kick-start the new campaign. And it was the Jamaicans roared on by their delirious fans, who dominated the one-day event.
In the Field events, Nigeria’s Amata scaled a good height to win the women’s High Jump event, recording a 1.90m jump. Amata beat St Lucia’s Levern Spencer, who also was able to record a 1.90m jump. America’s Maya Pressley came in third with 1.78m.
Amata has been in fine fettle this year, having won at the Drake meet in the United States, where she defeated China’s Xingjuan Zheng who took second and also Spencer in that particular competition. In April she came third in Atlanta, Georgia.
Okagbare back at the track where she won the women’s 100m event in 2014, placed second this time around on the same circuit, finishing behind home favourite Elaine Thompson who won the race in a time of 10.97s. Thompson has run the fastest time this year, having done 10.92s previously and she proved that she is ready to compete with the big girls, coming off the blocks nicely and getting on her bikes to win the race.
While Thompson might have won the race, Okagbare was not far behind as she crossed the line in an appreciable time of 11.05s, while 200m Olympic champion, Allyson Felix came in third with a time of 11.09s.
But the big surprise of the day came in the women’s 200m event where Bahamian young star Shauane Miller broke her country’s 16-year old National Record to win the race in a time of 22.14s. She came from behind to run a monstrous home stretch and defeated favourites, America’s Tori Bowie who finished second with a time of 22.29s, while World and Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce could only place third in the race with 22.37s, fading away as both Miller and Bowie overtook her in the last 60m of the race.
Miller is a budding athlete to keep an eye on, especially in the 200m and she will no doubt be a threat to Okagbare whom she has even surpassed her personal best of 22.23s. Dutch star Dafne Schippers is another to watch out for and it’s becoming tighter in the 200m with many athletes coming through to challenge for honours.
In the women’s 400m event, there was no stopping Olympic champion, Sanya Richard-Ross who comfortably took the race in a time of 49.95s, while her compatriot Francena McCorory finished second in a time of 50.73s and Jamaica’s Stephanie McPherson placing third in 50.9s. Ross becomes the first female athlete to run sub 50 seconds this year.
Meanwhile, the eye-catching display of the night came in the men’s 100m event. Former world record holder, Asafa Powell stole the show after running the fastest time of the year to win in a time of 9.84s. The World Lead for 2015 and the fastest time that Powell has done in five years.
America’s Ryan Bailey came in second with a time of 9.93s while another Jamaican star, Nesta Carter, completed the top three finish, coming in third with 99.8s. Interestingly all three athletes: Powell, Bailey and Carter are the first men to run below 10 seconds this year.
The 100m result makes for an interesting year to look forward to in the men’s cadre as the top athletes go up against each other in a bid to outdo themselves this season. Powell will be looking at challenging world’s fastest man and his compatriot, Usain Bolt, and also there is America’s Justin Gatlin to worry about, having emerged as unarguably the best in 2014.
Powell will gain a lot of confidence with his showing and might have sent out a coded message of a possible challenge with the other big athletes.
In the men’s 200m event, Jamaica took the top two positions, with Nickel Ashmeade winning the race in 20.25s while his fellow countryman, Rasheed Dwyer finished behind him in 20.28s. Canada’s Aaron Brown came in third with a time of 20.30s.
The Men’s 400m was another race that threw up surprises. Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Ahmed Masrahi who is the second leading man in that distance this year, won the race on the night in 44.59s beating former world champion, America’s LaShawn Merritt who finished second in 44.80s. Jamaica’s Javon Francis came third with a time of 44.90s.