Blessing Okagbare has begun her 2015 season with the 400m event

Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor got her season underway with a fascinating win at the 2015 Shanghai Diamond League meet on Sunday, winning the women’s 100m in 10.98s. Okagbare defeated a star-studded line-up that had Olympic Champion, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, and coasted to victory.



The Nigerian champion who started in lane 3 got a perfect start and was running neck-to-neck with Fraser-Pryce who started in lane 4, but Okagbare eluded the Jamaican and steered clear of the chasing pack in the last 40m of the race, finishing nearly a tenth of a second ahead of 2nd placed Tori Bowie who clocked 11.07s. Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye finished 3rd in 11.13s. The Jamaican duo of Veronica Campbell-Brown and Fraser-Pryce could only manage 4th and 5th positions in 11.22s and 11.25s respectively.

Just a week after finishing second in 11.05s at the Jamaica Invitational, Okagbare has now improved on her season best, putting her in great contention for the season ahead. Last year, Okagbare was victorious at this circuit, winning a double in both the women’s Long Jump and 200m events, all with a meeting records. And with another win this year, it is now back to back wins, with Shanghai looking like a good hunting ground for the Nigerian.

Running a world lead in the women’s 400m hurldes event was Jamaica’s Kaliese Spencer who took her race in a time of 54.71s. The Commonwealth champion had no difficulty executing her race, beating USA’s Tiffany Williams who came in 2nd with a time of 55.27s. Her compatriot Cassandra Tate came 3rd in 55.68s.

The talent of Kirani James has never been in doubt, and the Grenadian showed why he is currently the best over the quarter-mile event, winning the men’s 400m that had top athletes in the starting line-up. James effortlessly took the race, bursting out of the blocks in an explosive pace and going past America’s LaShawn Merritt whom he defeated earlier this year at the Drake Relays, powering to victory in 44.66s. America’s duo of Tony McQuay and Merritt came in 2nd and 3rd with a time of 45.54 and 45.58s respectively. Bostwana’s African champion, Isaac Makwala finished in sixth position with a time of 46.28s.

Panama’s Alonso Edward gathered momentum in the last 80m to win the men’s 200m in 20.33s. Interestingly, Jamaica’s Nickle Ashmeade led right after the curve, but he faded as even his compatriot Julian Forte overtook him in 2nd position at 20.36s, while he settled for 3rd in 20.44s.

The stand-out performance of the night came in the women’s 5000m where Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana produced a world leading time of 14.14.33s. Her victory takes her to the third-fastest time in history and also the Diamond League record and Asian all-comers’ record.

In the men’s 1500m, it was a Kenyan dominated top three finish with Isaac Kiplagat taking the race in 3.35.39s. His compatriots Hillary Cheruiyot and Collins Cheboi finished 2nd and 3rd in 3.35.40 and 3.35.46s respectively.

In the Field event, Colombia’s Catherine Ibarguen stormed into the lead and led all through her five attempts in the women’s Triple Jump event, recording a 14.71m leap in her first attempt. Meanwhile in the women’s Shot Put event, there was something to cheer for the home crowd who came out to see their athlete Gong Lijiao dominate the throws. The Chinese athlete set two World Leads en-route winning her event. If we thought that her first 19.82m throw was awesome, Lijiao raise the stakes with a 20.23m throw in her second attempt.

In the men’s High Jump, Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bohdan Bondarenko rekindled their rivalry, but it was the Qatari who came out tops. Barshim triumphed with his 2.38m jump to take victory from Bondarenko who put him under immense pressure. The Ukrainian’s 2.32m achievement left him in second, despite attempting 2.41m so as to raise the bar for Barshim, but he failed and his rival took the win.

Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov won the men’s Long Jump event with 8.27m(+0.4) while Jeff Henderson came in 2nd with 8.26m. The surprise package was 19-year old Chinese, Wang Jiana who placed 3rd, breaking the Asian junior record with 8.25m.

The first two meets have been exciting, and the Diamond League returns on May 30, in Eugene, USA.


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