Nigeria’s Track Queen, Blessing Okagbare- Ighoteguonor will be going for the 200m/Long Jump double at the Lausanne Diamond League this Thursday, which also serves as the 40th Anniversary of the Athletissima meeting.
The reigning Commonwealth 100m/200m champion will be returning to her first love, the Long Jump. The event was her first claim to fame after winning Bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It will be interesting to see how she combines the two events, considering that she is only making her debut in the Long Jump this late into the season.
Currently, she has a Personal Best (PB) of 7m in the Long Jump, and competing against a loaded field in Lausanne might just spur her to go over the 7m mark legally for the first time. The start list comprises of world leader Tianna Bartoletta of the USA (7.12m), Commonwealth Bronze medallist Christabel Nettey (6.99m), Great Britain’s Shara Proctor (6.95m) and Janay Deloach (7.03m) also of the USA.
Moments after proving her mettle on the field, the Nigerian will be back on the track, making her second appearance in the 200m. The African Record holder over 100m made her debut in New York where she finished 2nd in 22.67s to fierce rival, Tori Bowie who clocked a Season’s Best (SB) of 22.23s. Incidentally, the mark equals Okagbare’s PB set in Oregon last year, where she finished 2nd again behind the American.
This time around, she will be competing against a star-studded field that includes current Olympic Champion in the event, Allyson Felix, European double sprint champion Dafne Schippers and African rival Murielle Ahouré. USA’s Dezerea Bryant and Jeneba Tarmoh are also part of the line-up.
Okagbare-Ighoteguonor has been in outstanding form in the 100m this year, setting a new SB in every Diamond League meeting she has participated in. Her scorching 10.80s run in Paris last weekend was her latest feat as she placed 2nd behind Olympic and World Champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce who ran a World Lead of 10.74s. Her time is just .01s shy of her PB and African Record (AR) of 10.79s.
Meanwhile, two-time Nigerian 400m champion, Regina George, will also be making her debut in the Diamond League this season. She currently sits at 25th position on the IAAF list with her SB of 51.30s, which was set back in May at the IAAF World Challenge in Kawasaki, Japan.
George will be coming as the underdog against a stacked field that includes Olympic Champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who will have a point to prove after missing out on qualifying for the World Championships in Beijing; the former world champion comes with an SB of 49.95s. Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller (50.17s), Jamaica’s Novlene Williams-Mills and USA’s duo of Natasha Hastings (50.25s) and Phyllis Francis (50.67s) will all compete in the event.