Shanghai Diamond League

Nigeria’s Queen of the track, Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor was beaten to 1st position by fierce rival, USA’s Tori Bowie, in her first 200m race of the season at the New York Diamond League on Saturday.

Bowie was the undisputed winner in the women’s 200m as she exploded from the blocks and maintained her lead, clocking a Season’s Best (SB ) of 22.23s, which equals the Nigerian’s Personal Best (PB) set in Eugene last year. It was also an improvement from the 22.29s Bowie posted at the Jamaican Invitational in May.

The African Record holder over the 100m, finished 2nd in 22.67s, as Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson followed in 3rd place with 22.69s. Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has focused more on the 100m this year, running in Jamaica (11.05s), Shanghai (10.98s) and Eugene (10.87s), and is only returning to the track after missing the action in Rome, Birmingham and Oslo.

She is yet to compete in her first love, the Long Jump this season, giving indications that she would probably focus on the 100m/200m ahead of the World Championships in Beijing this August. The Commonwealth Games DOUBLE Sprint champion already scooped Silver in the Long Jump and Bronze in the 200m in Moscow two years ago.

She has some time to improve ahead of the World Champs as it would likely take a sub-22 to get to the podium in Beijing. Olympic champion, Allyson Felix is the only athlete to have run inside 22s this season after winning in Doha with 21.98s. Fellow African, Murielle Ahoure is 4th on the Top Lists with a time of 22.29s run in Doha.

Team Nigeria’s Miles Ukaoma made an impressive debut in the Diamond League, finishing 5th just ahead of World champion, Jehue Gordon, with an SB of 49.25s in the men’s 400m Hurdles race. The event was won by Olympic Bronze medallist, Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson with an SB of 48.48s, followed by South Africa’s Lj Van Zyl who posted an SB of 48.78s.

Team mate, Tosin Oke also finished 5th (16.47m) in the men’s Triple Jump, which was won by the man of the moment, Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo. The World Championships Silver medallist was denied by strong headwinds from breaking the Meeting Record (MR) of I7.98m set by France’s Teddy Tamgho in 2010, settling for victory with 17.56m.

Olympic Silver medallist, Will Claye was 2nd with 16.96m while compatriot, Omar Craddock placed 3rd with a jump of 16.55m. Pichardo already owns the Diamond League Record (DLR) of 18.06m, which was set in Doha after an exciting showdown with Olympic champion, Christian Taylor, who made a leap of 18.04m at the same meeting. He also set an MR of 17.96m at the Rome Diamond League.

Oke is still in pursuit of the elusive qualifying mark for the forthcoming World Championships, and needs at least 16.90m to secure a ticket to Beijing this August. He has already competed in Doha where he placed 6th with an SB of 16.83m, and Birmingham where he was 3rd with 16.71m.

The Adidas Grand Prix wasn’t a good outing for Nigerian record holder in the women’s High Jump, Doreen Amata. The All-Africa Games two-time GOLD medallist has been in good form this year, winning the Drake Relays and the IAAF World Challenge in Dakar where she jumped a near lifetime best of 1.94m.

However she failed to clear any bar in New York where world leader, Ruth Beitia and two-time world champion, Blanka Vlasic posted an MR of 1.97m, erasing the Croatian’s former record of 1.94m. The Nigerian was not alone in this predicament, as Iryna Kovalenko of Ukraine didn’t record a jump as well.

Shanghai Diamond League

Yemi Galadima is a Senior Sportswriter and Editor at Making of Champions. She has a bias for Athletics and was previously a Sports Reporter at the National Mirror, where she hosted a weekly column ‘On the Track with Yemi Olus’ for over two years. A self-acclaimed ‘athletics junkie’, she has covered national and international events live, such as the African Athletics Championships, African Games, Olympics and World Athletics Championships. She also freelances for World Athletics.


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